Training Camp Report: Day 4

Who has been having problems handling the heat? Which of the rookies is coming on strong? JC had an ideal vantage point for Chicago Bears training camp Monday and made these observations:

Pick Six
I went on CBS 2 Chicago's "Monsters & Money in the Morning" at 6:35 a.m. – the first of a training camp-long segment I'll be doing with them for the next two weeks or so – and told everyone in the Windy City that the offense has been ahead of the defense so far. Naturally, the O proceeded to put on its worst performance to date just a few hours later, as the D was relentless with its pass rush, picked off a bunch of passes and simply made their teammates on the other side of the ball miserable. Jay Cutler looked fairly good in 7-on-7 drills, completing 7 of 12 passes, including a couple of deep square-ins to Earl Bennett and Devin Hester, but he was intercepted three times in 11-on-11 action. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz called some designed rollouts for the first time, although Cutler had a hard time finding anyone open. While Caleb Hanie was also better in 7-on-7, connecting on 9 of 12 throws, 11-on-11 wasn't as kind: an interception and a fumbled snap from center. ...

Back before training camp began, I figured the battle for the starting job at strong-side linebacker was going to be fun to watch. Both Nick Roach and Pisa Tinoisamoa can make a strong case for being the third banana behind Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, but through four days of workouts, it hasn't been much of a battle at all. Roach has taken every first-team rep thus far, and he has been making plays and getting noticed – even by the fans in attendance. Tinoisamoa may have to come to accept the fact that he's nothing more than a bigger-name backup. It's extra hard for him to put quality plays on tape in practice because he plays the strong-side position, meaning he's forced to come off the field in nickel situations, so he's getting fewer reps than the likes of Hunter Hillenmeyer and maybe even Brian Iwuh. ...

One thing is for sure with Martz when it comes to getting the ball to Hester: He's going to pull out all the stops and get as creative as possible. Since he's not a natural wide receiver, Martz did some option-type stuff with him during OTAs and even lined him up at quarterback in the Wildcat once or twice. On Monday, Hester took a shovel pass from Cutler while working out of the slot. Shortly thereafter, Hester went in motion to the right but came back hard to the left after the snap, reeling in a perfectly-timed receiver screen that was blocked beautifully by Roberto Garza and Frank Omiyale – No. 23 sprinted all the way to paydirt. Hester needs his touches, and you can't just expect him to catch 75 passes as a traditional wideout. ...

First, the good news on rookie Major Wright: This youngster looks to be an incredibly instinctive safety and came down with his first interception of training camp Monday, stepping in front of a square-in from Hanie to Antonio Robinson. Now, the bad news on Major Wright: He made the injury report after practice, as coach Lovie Smith said the third-round pick suffered a slight groin pull. It would be a shame if Wright missed any time, as he has been getting better every day and seems to be threatening for a starting job. That's saying something since he only began getting first-team snaps Sunday. There isn't much in the way of hitting in Bourbonnais because that's the way NFL practices are these days, but if there is a shot being delivered, chances are it's Wright doing the delivery. ...


DT Marcus Harrison
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

On the special-teams front, roles look to have been reversed for Robbie Gould and Brad Maynard this training camp. No, that doesn't mean Gould is now punting and Maynard has begun kicking, but their workload seems to have been flip-flopped. Usually, Gould does a lot of kicking to keep his Pro Bowl right leg in shape, although he has been giving way to Richmond McGee a lot, as he did Monday. Maynard, on the other hand, tends to take it easy this time of year, but ever since getting his hip scoped this offseason, he feels so much better and doesn't need to worry about those extra practice punts leading to unnecessary wear and tear. Maynard in particular has been launching the ball lately. ...

When asked about how Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are going to share the workload this season, Smith went out of his way to comment on the entire depth chart at running back and not just his top two guys. Smith said that this is a big year for Garrett Wolfe, as he has been injured too much three years into his career and appears to have trouble finishing the season. As I've been writing for a few days now, Smith praised Kahlil Bell for the way he has run hard in practice, and it's noticeable how much he has improved as a pass catcher. Awfully quiet in the locker room last year as a rookie, Bell is starting to let his personality show a little bit. When you see him walking to and from the cafeteria, he's either rapping lyrics or reciting lines from Predator in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

Injury Report
At the beginning of practice, it was Chris Harris, Juaquin Iglesias and Harvey Unga sitting on the sideline. Harris is still dealing with his back injury, but Smith clarified the Iglesias situation. Sunday he said it was a groin problem, but it's actually a quad issue. Unga is dealing with a sore hamstring. Now you can add Wright to the list with a groin problem of his own, but no news yet on how severe it may be.

Stud of the Day
Before he failed to finish practice, Wright was flying around the field and making plays everywhere. He knocked down one pass from Hanie to Robinson. Shortly thereafter, he intercepted a throw from Hanie to Robinson. Another time, he went airborne over the middle and put a solid pop on Greg Mathews. He may have missed a few snaps down the stretch, but he looked great when he was out there.

Dud of the Day
For the second time in two days, Marcus Harrison was unable to finish the workout. Smith said the third-year defensive tackle was dealing with heat-related issues, so nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things. Still, this is a guy that spent time on the non-football injury list a year ago for reporting to training camp fat and out of shape, and then some sort of "illness" kept him off the practice field for a good portion of the offseason program. Harrison is from Little Rock, Arkansas, so I'm not buying Bourbonnais, Illinois, being too hot for him.

Quote to Note
"I take two steps forward, one step back, and then three steps forward, one step back. You keep getting stronger and stronger, but the biggest thing is just getting your body conditioned to these little muscles and little movements that I haven't been able to do in a long time. So the confidence is continuing building up, trying new things and just perfecting my craft." – DT Tommie Harris on his seemingly never-ending battle to be 100-percent healthy once again.


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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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