Training Camp Report: Day 18

Does Dan LeFevour have a chance to be a real NFL QB? Are there enough bodies to survive at safety? JC had the perfect seat for Chicago Bears training camp Monday and made these observations:

Pick Six
While the prognosis on backup quarterback Caleb Hanie's right shoulder appears to be good, having injured it Saturday in the preseason opener at San Diego, he's going to be sidelined for a while – the Bears are suddenly down to just two QBs in training camp. Jay Cutler completed 18 of 29 passes in Monday's workout, including 8 of 12 in 7-on-7 drills and 10 of 17 in 11-on-11 action. The cheer-worthy plays were few and far between, although Cutler did manage to feather a perfect fade pattern up the right sideline to Chester Taylor over the outstretched arms of a trailing Pisa Tinoisamoa. Rookie Dan LeFevour's numbers didn't look terrible on the surface, hitting on 13 of 24 attempts overall, which was the product of 9 of 12 in 7-on-7 and 4 of 12 in 11-on-11. However, the sixth-round pick threw not one, not two, not three, not four, but five interceptions on the afternoon. ...

There simply is no way to sugarcoat it anymore: LeFevour looked even less like an NFL passer in Monday's practice than he did in Saturday's exhibition game against the Chargers, when he couldn't do any better than 2 of 10 for 21 yards and three sacks. Linebacker Brian Iwuh, participating for the first time since a knee injury on Aug. 3, intercepted LeFevour two times. Cornerback Corey Graham recorded a pair of INTs himself, including one when he was running one direction, seemed to stop mid-stride and dove backward to make one of the more athletic plays we've seen in Bourbonnais to date. No. 5 came courtesy of safety Josh Bullocks, who would have taken it all the way back to the house for six points. Coach Lovie Smith said after the workout that the Bears are officially in the market for another QB, preferably an experienced one, and it wouldn't have been a surprise if general manager Jerry Angelo was on the phone before the final whistle. ...

Smith said repeatedly all offseason long that his defense needs to get better play from both safeties, so injuries to third-year pro Craig Steltz and rookie Major Wright are all the more damaging right now. Steltz and Wright were arguably making more plays than any of the other safeties in camp, with Steltz solidifying himself as a jack-of-all-trades No. 3-type and Wright threatening to start right out of the gate as a third rounder. While Smith didn't give any indication when speaking to reporters as to how long either of them would be out, Steltz wasn't on the practice field at all because of his ankle injury and Wright is scheduled for surgery Tuesday on his banged-up finger. The majority of the first-team reps went to Danieal Manning and Chris Harris at strong and free safety, respectively, and they made zero plays of note Monday. Neither Steltz nor Wright has been ruled out for Week 1 against Detroit, but don't expect to see them the rest of the preseason. ...

At linebacker, Tinoisamoa was atop the depth chart Monday and Nick Roach got stuck with the second teamers. One player that hasn't made the daily Training Camp Report very often is Brian Urlacher, who has quietly gone about his business and seems to be perfectly healthy and recovered from last year's freak wrist injury that cost him 15 of 16 games. No. 54 finally found his way to the highlight reel, reacting quickly to a shallow crossing pattern run by Devin Aromashodu and breaking to his left to knock down Cutler's pass. Saturday's foot injury to Hunter Hillenmeyer leaves the Bears without a classic backup middle linebacker, as Kevin Malast got those second-string reps throughout the day. It's incredible how quickly an NFL team can go from deep to thin at a certain position after just one preseason game, so it appears Iwuh returned right on time. ...


CB Corey Graham
Scott Boehm/Getty

As is usually the case in the preseason opener, the Bears ran a vanilla game plan and didn't bother to flip to the back pages of the playbook offensively or defensively. Specifically on defense, it was the 4-3 against base personnel or the nickel package when San Diego went with three or more wide receivers, and the only blitzes called by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli sent the strong-side linebacker hard off the edge. Roach was successful one time and ended up getting a sack of Billy Volek, although Matt Mayberry whiffed despite a clean shot at Jonathan Crompton. However, at Monday's practice, Marinelli was experimenting with some zone blitzes, including one dropping defensive end Julius Peppers into coverage in the right flat. The 6-7, 283-pounder didn't disappoint, getting credit for a pass defensed on a quick out from Cutler intended for Aromashodu. ...

To the surprise of most everyone wearing a credential around his neck, Smith went out of his way to praise his offensive line for the way it played Saturday in San Diego. I'm not sure what game film Smith was watching, but four running backs combined to rush for only 32 yards on 17 carries – none of them longer than 7 yards. It just goes to show that Smith is going to protect his players from the media at all costs, even when the most casual of observers can see that this team again has major question marks up front. While tackles Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale probably graded out pretty well against the Chargers, the interior of the O-line spent way too much time in its own backfield. Because Lance Louis got himself a bit banged up, career backup tackle James Marten took some first-team snaps at right guard Monday.

Injury Report
Nine players were unable to suit up Monday: Hanie, Hillenmeyer, Mayberry, Steltz, Wright, Earl Bennett, Jarron Gilbert, Johnny Knox and Patrick Mannelly. Again, don't look for Hanie, Steltz or Wright to play in any more preseason games and all of them are probably questionable at this point for Week 1. Since special teams focused on kickoff and kickoff return, Mannelly wasn't needed. Both Bennett and Gilbert have to get back out there if they want to be contributors in 2010. Gilbert might not make the roster, as he has been one of the bigger disappointments in Bourbonnais.

Stud of the Day
One player Smith loves to mention out of thin air and praise how well he is doing is second-year pro D.J. Moore, who is apparently in the mix to be the "12th starter" at nickel back. That notion seems preposterous to observers like myself, especially with Graham registering two interceptions Monday and already proving back in 2008 that he knows how to support the run. Graham's second INT was a thing of beauty and as good a catch as even any of the receivers have made thus far in training camp.

Dud of the Day
As my dad used to say, I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. Readers – and fellow media members, come to think of it – have been giving me a hard time for killing LeFevour on a daily basis. It's nothing personal, and I have no agenda here. I'm simply calling 'em as I see 'em. He's a nice young man and I've enjoyed the few conversations I've had with him, but LeFevour doesn't have the tools to be a quarterback in this league. Five picks in a single practice? I can't remember even Chris Leak ever doing that.

Quote to Note
"I'm not satisfied. As you can see, there were a few mistakes out there. I've got plenty to learn. The good thing is I've got some great teachers that know exactly what I'm supposed to do, and I've just got to take that in and do the best I can." – QB Dan LeFevour when asked about his performance on the practice field Monday.


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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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