OTAs Report: Wednesday, June 9

How far is the defense ahead of the offense at this point? What's happening at the left guard position? JC had a front-row seat at OTAs Wednesday for the Chicago Bears and made these observations:

Pick Six
It's been a long time since sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour received so much as one rep in team drills, and Wednesday was the same with him sitting and watching starter Jay Cutler and backup Caleb Hanie. Cutler completed 15 of his 26 passes, including 7 of 12 in 7-on-7 work and 8 of 14 in 11-on-11 action. After throwing an interception in red-zone 7-on-7, Cutler fired back-to-back TDs to Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen. Hanie put together a 15 of 24 performance, which was the product of 8 of 12 in 7-on-7 and 7 of 12 in 11-on-11. He looked great on two straight touchdowns in the red zone, the first to Juaquin Iglesias and the second to Richard Angulo, but he threw three more INTs and continues to turn the football over much too frequently. ...

Although it's not out of the ordinary for the defense to be ahead of the offense at this point of the year, Wednesday was a struggle for offensive coordinator Mike Martz and Co. Cutler and Hanie combined to hit on 30 of 50 passes during team drills, and not only is a 60-percent completion rate somewhat unimpressive for a no-pads practice, but several of those connections came on the fourth and fifth look and, therefore, would have been sacks in a live-bullet situation. The four interceptions Wednesday were recorded by Craig Steltz, Danieal Manning, D.J. Moore and Al Afalava. Moore's was a gift, as Earl Bennett juggled what should have been an easy TD catch in red-zone drills, plus Manning's was initially tipped by a stretching Olsen. But Steltz and Afalava made clean plays after a couple of poor deliveries from Hanie. ...

We appear to have a little more clarity at the left guard position, where career tackle Kevin Shaffer did not get any reps with the first or second team. With Josh Beekman stuck playing center to compensate for Olin Kreutz's absence, it was Lance Louis and Johan Asiata battling it out for the fifth and final starting job along the offensive line. The Bears sort of admitted a mistake from last year by moving Frank Omiyale back to right tackle after an up-and-down 2009 at left guard, so it was unlikely they would force another tackle like Shaffer to the inside. Shaffer's best role is probably as a swing tackle off the bench anyway, sort of like John St. Clair was all those years before he was needed in the starting lineup throughout the 2008 campaign. It's difficult to tell if Louis is ahead of Asiata or vice versa at this juncture, and we probably won't know for sure until training camp. ...

A lot of people are simply assuming Pisa Tinoisamoa is going to win the starting job at strong-side linebacker again, just as he did a year ago over the likes of Nick Roach and Hunter Hillenmeyer. Tinoisamoa is back after an injury-plagued 2009 limited him to only two games and ended in knee surgery, but that doesn't mean he's going to be thrown right out there alongside Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Roach took every first-team rep Wednesday on the strong side, only exiting the action when it was time for Corey Graham and the nickel package. While Tinoisamoa does have a lot of experience in a similar system going back to his six-season stint in St. Louis, he was racking up all those tackles as a weak-side defender, where the responsibilities are quite different. Don't be surprised if Roach eventually emerges as the third Musketeer behind Briggs and Urlacher. ...


CB D.J. Moore
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

The Wildcat formation made its debut Wednesday, with Devin Hester lining up in the shotgun on two occasions. Both times, Hester grabbed the snap, faked an inside handoff to Matt Forte and then took off. However, there was no running lane on either play call, as Hester got blown up easily in the backfield once by Urlacher and a second time by half of the D-line. Departed offensive coordinator Ron Turner did some experimenting with the Wildcat here and there, but Chicago never made an attempt to practice the gimmick regularly and it really showed on game day – it never worked. Martz has always been a trailblazer on offense, with Turner proving to be more of a follower, which is why it was somewhat surprising to see the Wildcat at all. ...

There were two separate special-teams periods Wednesday instead of the usual one. It's worth noting that Robbie Gould has apparently been working on his onside kicks. By his own admission, that has been a weakness ever since he got into the league. As a matter of fact, the Bears have never recovered a Gould onside-kick attempt. Now they're hoping they don't have to, of course, but Gould seems to have perfected the high bouncer that starts to descend right around the 10-yard mark on the numbers.

Injury Report
Brandon Manumaleuna is making progress after his knee scope and did some light running on the side before practice. Kreutz won't be back on the field until training camp as he recovers from surgery on his Achilles and wasn't even in attendance. Garrett Wolfe was excused for personal reasons but is expected to return to Halas Hall for Thursday's workout.

Stud of the Day
Apparently settling in at strong safety, Manning had his best day of practice at his new position. He did drop a potential INT on a post from Cutler to Devin Aromashodu, but he got his pick later on a laser down the seam from Cutler to Olsen. Manning was also credited with a pass defensed on a post from Cutler to Hester.

Dud of the Day
If Bennett doesn't step it up soon, the trio of Hester, Knox and Aromashodu is going to move on without him. Bennett is currently getting more reps with the second stringers than the first stringers, and even then his number isn't being called as often as Iglesias or Rashied Davis. The ball Bennett bobbled in the end zone hit him right in the hands, and the fact that it ended up in Moore's grasp for a turnover made it all the more egregious of an error.

Quote to Note
"You can always learn, especially from a great coach like him. He has really emphasized the small things because that's really what's going to get you past ... everybody in this league is fast, is athletic and can play. It's the small things, the attention to detail, that put you on the next level." – DE Julius Peppers on defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.


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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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