Minicamp Report: Day 2, Session 4

What passer went from ice cold to red hot? Who is standing out so far on the defensive line? JC had a front-row seat at Day 2 of veteran minicamp for the Chicago Bears and made these observations:

Pick Six
As was the case in the morning session, sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour only got to see the field during positional drills and didn't receive a single rep in either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11, and offensive coordinator Mike Martz went so far as to make an innocent crack about the rookie not knowing his way from the sideline to the huddle right now. Jay Cutler was decidedly average, completing 12 of 20 throws, including 8 of 12 in 7-on-7 drills and only 4 of 8 in 11-on-11 work. You can tell Martz's influence with all the longer routes, as Cutler found Devin Aromashodu on a deep hitch and Devin Hester on a deep cross on consecutive snaps. Caleb Hanie had an up-and-down afternoon, missing on four of his first five passes, but then he finished on a serious hot streak and still ended the day 16 of 20. Moving out of the pocket quite often, Hanie hit 15 straight and spread the ball around liberally. ...

New director of player personnel Tim Ruskell made his first appearance at minicamp Saturday, spending some time at both the morning and afternoon session. It's plain to see that he and general manager Jerry Angelo have been friends for a long time, although that may or may not be a good thing in terms of helping the Bears put their best product on the field going forward. But one position group Ruskell can probably leave alone is receiver. Martz said emphatically when he took the job that Chicago had a great group of pass catchers, despite the fact that household names were hard to find, and minicamp has backed up that claim. Hester, Aromashodu and Johnny Knox have all looked very good thus far, and second-year pro Juaquin Iglesias appears to be coming on strong. ...

Former offensive coordinator Ron Turner took a lot of heat in the Windy City, probably a little more than he truly deserved, but there's no question that his system lacked creativity and was predictable at times. Martz has unveiled an awful lot already, and Saturday afternoon we even saw some option-type stuff being run during positional drills. First, Hester took an end-around handoff from Cutler, sprinted around the right side and then pitched the ball to Matt Forte near the numbers. One snap later, Forte and Chester Taylor lined up in the backfield together, and this time it was Forte getting the handoff from Cutler before running right and then flipping the ball back to Taylor. Cutler wasn't doing any of the option stuff himself, which is probably wise since Martz doesn't always go out of his way to protect the passer and No. 6 is going to take enough punishment this year. ...

Second-year defensive linemen Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton are two players to watch in 2010, as Gilbert spent most of his rookie season on the game-day inactive list and Melton got the proverbial redshirt on injured reserve with a relatively minor ankle problem. Because Julius Peppers was added in free agency and Israel Idonije is supposed to be playing end full time, both Gilbert and Melton are fighting for the tackle rotation. Gilbert, however, has been getting all his reps at end through two days of minicamp. Melton looks to be focusing on Tommie Harris' three-technique position, although he was having a tough time Saturday afternoon and got pushed around repeatedly in 9-on-9 work by Josh Beekman. ...


RB Chester Taylor
AP Images: Nam. Y. Huh

Not only were Aromashodu and Hester running a lot of deep routes over the middle during the afternoon session, but Knox seemed to be doing a fair share of fly patterns and had to have been tired after the final period. At one point, Cutler looked for Knox 50-plus yards down the field twice in three plays, although the first one was almost picked along the right sideline by Zack Bowman and the second was well overthrown to the left in Charles Tillman's direction. Greg Olsen was also pressing the issue Saturday, running a bunch of seam routes over the linebackers and in front of the safeties. The results were far from spectacular, though. One was overthrown by Cutler and one was knocked out of Olsen's hands by Danieal Manning, but the last one connected and looked pretty. ...

Lining up at defensive end, it continues to be Mark Anderson with the majority of the first-team action opposite Peppers. Idonije is working his way into the mix, and even Gilbert got a little time with the starters Saturday afternoon. Anderson still has a bad habit of trying to guess the snap count, jumping offsides twice in the span of three reps in 11-on-11. And the worst part is Cutler wasn't even going with a hard count. Since Anderson's only weapon is speed off the edge, he must feel like he can't get enough pressure unless he beats the offensive tackle on that first step.

Injury Report
The same cast of characters is watching from the sideline instead of practicing on the field. The good news is that no new injuries have been reported through two days of minicamp action. Harris was back in the mix on the defensive line after sitting out the morning workout, while Pisa Tinoisamoa took the afternoon off and again gave way to Tim Shaw on the strong side.

Studs of the Afternoon
The first-string secondary as a whole put together a terrific performance defending Cutler. Both Bowman and Tillman were up to the challenge on all those deep patterns, as none of the posts, flags or flies were completed. Chris Harris intercepted a long cross from Cutler intended for Aromashodu, and Josh Bullocks also deserves some love since he picked off a bomb from Hanie in the direction of Iglesias.

Dud of the Afternoon
Maybe "dud" is a little harsh, but Knox definitely had the worst of his four practices to this point. Not only did he fail to get behind defenders running all those fly routes, but he also dropped a perfectly-thrown ball from Cutler over the middle. Still, make no mistake about it: Knox has been impressive more often than not and could be on the verge of really making a name for himself around the NFL.

Quote to Note
Neither players nor coaches were not made available to the media after Saturday's afternoon practice, as it was Family Day at Halas Hall.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter 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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