The first-team defense wasn't running at full capacity, as several veterans didn't take part in full-squad drills and watched from the sidelines as their younger cohorts tried to put quality plays on tape. Both Pisa Tinoisamoa and Lance Briggs took the day off at linebacker, which meant more snaps for Nick Roach on the strong side and newcomer Brian Iwuh over on the weak side. Steltz was getting all the reps at free safety while Chris Harris looked on, which still seemed a bit odd since the more athletic Manning continues to be down in the box at strong safety. Israel Idonije was with the starters at defensive end more than he has been the last few weeks, but that was more a product of Mark Anderson having a light day's work. With Henry Melton unavailable to do anything more than light running on the side, Matt Toeaina was again subbing with Tommie Harris at three technique. ...
We have quite a battle going on at receiver, but not for the first three spots in the rotation. Aromashodu, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox have all enjoyed tremendous offseasons and appear to be getting more comfortable with their roles in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system on a daily basis. On the other hand, Earl Bennett, who was a starter this past season, dropped another pass in the end zone from Hanie in red-zone drills and seems to be falling further and further down the depth chart. Both Iglesias and Rashied Davis are being targeted regularly and coming down with the football more often than not. As a matter of fact, when Hanie is at the controls, sometimes it feels like Davis is his primary read on every play. ...
While both the first- and second-unit offense were turnover-free for the majority of the day, Cutler fired a pair of interceptions in the span of four snaps during his last set of 11-on-11s. The first one was on an ill-advised throw to Hester running a skinny post down the seam, as there was no room to fit the ball into the receiver and nickel back Corey Graham secured it with his abdomen before hitting the deck. Shortly thereafter, Cutler didn't account for Roach dropping back into zone coverage on a deep crossing route to Davis, so the linebacker simply stepped into the throwing lane and made the easy INT. Hanie had been committing turnovers at an alarming rate lately, including four picks this past Wednesday, but this time he emerged unscathed. Although Iwuh almost got him, tipping but then dropping a Hanie over-the-middle pass intended for Desmond Clark. ...
There were also some veteran offensive players not doing very much Wednesday, including free-agent acquisition tailback Chester Taylor. That meant all kinds of second-team reps for both Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell. Wolfe is known as a tremendous receiver out of the backfield, which has never been a strength for Bell. But Bell has apparently worked hard on what is a necessary trait for a ball carrier in Martz's offense. During one-on-one drills, Bell made a one-handed snare in the corner of the end zone on a touch pass from LeFevour, falling to the ground but immediately popping up to show the coaches he indeed made the grab. ...
The play everyone will be talking about until next week came courtesy of Hester. Although he has lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation once or twice throughout OTAs, never has he actually thrown the football. But all that changed Wednesday, as Hester took the shotgun snap and faked an inside give to Matt Forte. Instead of simply keeping it and darting around the end, Hester quickly fired downfield to a streaking Knox, who had gotten behind a napping Charles Tillman. When Hester ended up hitting Knox perfectly in stride, the practice field erupted and Hester did a little celebratory dance.
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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.
OTAs Report: Wednesday, June 16
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