- Bears running backs coach Skip Pete on Matt Forte. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:
“‘The guy has an unbelievable feel for the game. And once he’s seen something, he doesn’t forget it. So early in a game, he’ll see how a defender is playing on a certain route or fitting on a certain block. Then the next time around, when that play’s called, he already has that sense for what he wants to do. He has such a terrific understanding of the structure of a defense and the responsibility of the guys on defense — who can come on a pressure, who’s supposed to fit where. That helps him make quicker decisions on all he has to do.'”
- The competition for roster spots at positions like defensive line and safety seem to get the most attention. But it seems to me like the real problem spot is linebacker. Michael C. Wright‘s roster projection for ESPN.com is typical. He’s keeping Khaseem Greene and Christian Jones but kicking the Bears best special teams player, Jordan Senn, to the curb. The final list of personnel at this position is going to be interesting.
- On a related note, Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune has been impressed with Jones:
“Undrafted rookie strong-side linebacker Christian Jones continues to stand out because of how fluidly he runs, especially for such a big backer (6-foot-3, 240). The more I watch him drop in coverage, change directions and run, the more convinced I become that he’s going to make the 53-man roster.”
“Position coach Reggie Herring called Jones raw on Sunday, but the Bears really like his physical ability.”
- Campbell has been paying close attention to the one-on-one pass rush drills between the offensive and defensive linemen. He is careful to state that the defensive linemen have an advantage in these drills. But his reports on the daily battles between Jordan Mills and Lamarr Houston aren’t doing anything to make me more comfortable with Mills at right offensive tackle.
- I also found this report from Campbell to be significant:
“Rookie Pat O’Donnell did not punt as well Monday as he did Sunday. O’Donnell didn’t hit the ball consistently cleanly. In the second punting period — the one I charted — Tress Way unofficially averaged 51 yards and 4.26 seconds of hang time on four punts. O’Donnell unofficially averaged 45 yards and 3.74 seconds on his four punts. And, no, there were no ‘Mega Punt’ chants for O’Donnell on Monday.”
Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times added this:
“One thing I’ve noticed over the first few days of training camp is that Way and kicker Robbie Gould are often together.”
- Reports like this one from Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune are an encouraging sign that Marquess Wilson will win the number three wide receiver spot and will be an upgrade at the position over Earl Bennett:
“A very fluid athlete, Wilson doesn’t have elite lateral quickness, but he has improved his release points at the line of scrimmage along with his footwork at the top of the route stem when coming back downhill to the football.”
- Not to make too big of a deal out of these things early in camp but Alshon Jeffrey (sore foot) and Matt Slauson (right shoulder) not finishing practice is a tad alarming. Slauson had surgery on the shoulder in the offseason but was supposedly fully recovered. Cornerback Tim Jennings remains out with a sore quadriceps muscle. Add the fact that Kyle Long, who was supposed to be back on the field by now, was still out due to a viral infection and these issues may add up to something of significance. Wiederer would seem to agree:
“Long’s absence might be the most troublesome at this point. The Bears continue to insist that they don’t expect the Pro Bowl lineman to miss extended time. But head coach Marc Trestman admitted that Long’s development certainly isn’t being furthered with all the missed practice the past week.”
Jeff Dickerson at ESPN.com reports that Long saw a doctor on Monday.
- Jahns quotes defensive tackle Will Sutton:
“‘The only struggle that I’ve had with the transition is just how strong everybody is,’ said Sutton, a two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year at Arizona State. ‘The weight room is one of the biggest factors out here right now. I’m a young guy out here with guys who have been doing it for a while, so experience plays a role. I’ve just got to get out here and take the room weight room seriously.’”
I’m not surprised. Sutton is one of those undersized guys that former head coach Lovie Smith used to love. He is supposed to be relying on his quickness to get by rather than his strength. He undoubtedly does need to get stronger and that will help. But that’s never going to be his strong suit. So he’d better find another way to get it done.
- Its unusual to hear that Trestman sounded this upset. Via Jahns:
“Coach Marc Trestman seemed irked by a question from a reporter who referred to a story that indicated Trestman preferred Jordan Palmer to Jimmy Clausen as the backup quarterback.
“‘That couldn’t be,’ Trestman said. ‘I’ve never said anything to that at all. I’ve said that it’s a competition, that it’s an open competition. I’ve never been asked a question in two years like that, but my answer is as simple as it can be, and that is that it’s a competition. I haven’t even thought about at this point who that guy would be. I want to let it happen, and it will.’”
- Jahns noted this exchange:
“[Wide receiver Brandon] Marshall actually called out [rookie cornerback Kyle] Fuller’s name and waved him over to face him during one-on-one drills. After one incompletion, Marshall gave Fuller a fist bump while walking back to their lines.
“‘I love going against Brandon Marshall,’ Fuller said.”
- Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald was the only reporter to note that Marshall had “a bad case of the drops” yesterday. It didn’t stand out as much last year but Marshall is known for dropping the ball more than most wide receivers. Here’s hoping that the tendency doesn’t return this year.
- Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on the back up quarterback competition:
“It looks to me and a number of other veteran observers like, if the season started tomorrow, [Jimmy] Clausen is the second best QB in camp. [Quarterbacks coach Matt] Cavanaugh is just glad Marc Trestman doesn’t have to make that call yet.”
Bowen agrees with Arkush.
- Tight end Dante Rosario may be in trouble. From Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com:
“Dante Rosario had a false start and a drop, but did have a catch up the seam late. Matthew Mulligan may have the early edge at No. 2 tight end.”
Mulligan had the edge going in as it is. He’s a very good blocker that could eliminate the need to bring in back up tackle Eben Britton as an extra lineman in running situations. Mulligan is more of a threat to catch passes in such a role.
- On a similar, ominous note, we haven’t heard defensive end Cornelius Washington‘s name much in camp.
- Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes tight end Martellus Bennett on quarterback Jay Cutler:
“Cutler has a different demeanor this year, Bennett said.
“‘Usually, he could just easily go through the motions in [individual drills], especially when it’s hot,’ he said. ‘But he’s working on his drops, he’s working on his releases, he’s working on everything, just like every other player on the team.’
“Told of the comment, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh laughed that Bennett ‘has a different perspective’ and said he has never seen Cutler ‘disengaged’ in practice.”
- Dickerson writes about the progress of the younger Bears along the defensive front:
“Rookie nose tackle Ego Ferguson flashes the ability to get up-field in one-on-one individual pass-rush drills, but Ferguson has ended up on the ground on at least three separate occasions since the pads came on. Ferguson needs to find the perfect combination of speed and balance to ensure he doesn’t take himself out of the play when games begin for real next month.”
- Are you ready for some football? Apparently this guy is.
- Buried in Dan Pompei‘s article about the state of the Washington Redskins for Sports on Earth was this nugget regarding an organization I never heard of before:
“[Redskins offensive coordinator Sean] McVay worked under [former Tampa Bay head coach Jon] Gruden for one year before the Bucs staff was fired. Then Gruden founded the Fired Football Coaches Association, which offered coaches a place to watch tape, exchange ideas, and in McVay’s case, absorb a lot of knowledge.”
One Final Thought
Defensive tackle Austen Lane messes with the head of Arthur Arkush at chicagofootball.com when he spins this tale:
“Ever wonder about what type of banter occurs immediately before a training camp practice scuffle ensues?”
“See, Lane and Britton were formerly teammates in Jacksonville – Lane a 2010 fifth-rounder, Britton a second-round pick one year earlier – and they know what makes the other one tick. But would you believe if we told you tempers flared due to a disagreement over fictional books?”
“‘We’re in the huddle, whatever, and he started talking to me about how Divergent is the better book series,’ Lane quipped after practice. ‘And I said, ‘no you’re stupid, Twilight is better.’ And that went back and forth … and then by the third play, I had to stand up for Twilight, man. And I stood my ground and we got in a little scrapple. But that happens when you talk about book series.'”
You know right away that its a joke. Not because science fiction books aren’t worth fighting over to a geek like me. But no one who isn’t a 14 year old girl would claim to have read Twilight. And it definitely wasn’t the better series.
Not that I would know that.