If the Bears are looking for extra pressure this season from their defensive ends, it's going to have to come from the starting duo of Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye. Mark Anderson is simply a non-factor and not getting into the backfield very often, and it doesn't seem to matter if he's facing starting-quality blockers or practice-squad fodder – both Kevin Shaffer and Cody Balogh stoned him repeatedly Wednesday. Ogunleye, on the other hand, has looked good the last few practices and knocked down yet another pass from Cutler during 11-on-11. ...
Coach Lovie Smith wasn't quite sure what the injury to Kevin Jones was when asked about his backup running back after practice, but if this were hockey and not football, it would simply be referred to as a "lower-body" injury. That meant an extra workload for Matt Forte for most of Wednesday's session, and the second-year pro ran the ball effectively, caught the ball effortlessly and even dropped back to throw on one occasion. Forte took a sweep right near the enemy 15-yard line and lofted a halfback-option pass toward the back of the end zone for Hester, although Al Afalava wasn't fooled and broke up the play. ...
Even though the Cover 2 necessitates quality play from a pure free safety patrolling the center of the field, the prolonged absence of Danieal Manning has forced the coaching staff to again switch Kevin Payne from his most natural spot at strong safety over to the free safety position. While neither Craig Steltz nor Josh Bullocks seems to be taking advantage of the thinned-out depth chart, the rookie Afalava is quickly turning into a fan favorite in Bourbonnais and keeps making plays despite only being a sixth-round draft pick. Not only did Afalava knock away that halfback-option pass from Forte to Hester, but he also came away with the lone interception of the evening when he stepped in front of a Cutler pass intended for Desmond Clark in the shadow of his own goal line. ...
With wide receiver arguably the weakest position on the entire roster, rookies Juaquin Iglesias, Johnny Knox and Derek Kinder have all been given a chance to contribute – Iglesias and Knox have even been given first-team reps from time to time. Iglesias started off slow but has played much better of late, making a particularly nice catch on a quick slant from Hanie during the two-minute drill. Knox, however, was terrific the first week or so but has really fizzled out ever since, including a poor effort Wednesday on a fly pattern that was only half a step out of his reach – for some reason, Knox didn't have the desire to even extend for it let alone dive. Kinder has rarely deserved more than a shot on the third team. At best, he's a candidate for the practice squad right now. ...
Enough with the Wildcat formation, Ron Turner. Once again, Chicago's offensive coordinator reached deep into his bag of tricks and came up empty. With Forte lining up in the shotgun and Cutler wide left, Forte took the snap, faked an inside handoff to Jason McKie and darted off around right end before flipping the ball to Hester on the reverse. Brown was not fooled, keeping containment firm like the veteran he is and blowing up the play for what would have been about an 8-yard loss. Let's see if Cutler and Co. can run the basics of the playbook effectively before trying to earn a black belt in trickeration.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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