First day of training camp is full of optimism for both veterans looking to win a championship and rookies trying to gain a roster spot. This years Chicago Bears training camp is no different, with many positions up for competition, especially on defense. Early on in training camp the defense usually has the upper hand on the offense but, that isn’t the case this year. On day one in shorts and helmets, the offense excelled. Second team offensive members struggled as expected as most are new to the system but Jay Cutler and the first team offense looked sharp most of the morning.
While waiting in line I got to witness Jared Allen give an interview to Pat Tamsulo with the standard veteran answers given for most questions about his role on the defense. The best quip Jared was able to get in was when asked how he as a veteran deals with training camp. He replied “Training is always difficult but this years its going to be a Bear!” Nice little pun but, he knows how hot the competition is going to be this pre-season.
The weather was perfect, not too hot with a nice cooling threat of showers to end the practice, but no rain to dampen the enthusiasm of the fans. It was a great first day turnout with what I would guess was 10,000 fans in attendance. For a practice with no real contact and not pads it was not without a few moments of cheers and drama.
First round pick Kyle Fuller looks like he may just fill fan expectations with 2 interceptions in his first practice. Fuller picked off a deflected ball for his first pick of practice. On his second interception he stepped in front of Alshon Jeffrey on a late delivery by Jimmy Clausen and arguably could have taken it to the house on game day.
Brock Vereen played the majority of snaps on first team defense as well and although made no real impact plays and never seemed out of position or beaten on any play. Today was flag football on steroids and until the pads come on and the hitting starts, defensive play is all speculation.
Cutler and company looked to me in sync with his receivers and he looked every bit the $100 million dollar man. Eat your heart out Steve Austin! His throws were crisp and on target with only a couple of balls that were thrown short. Jimmy Clausen looked rusty and held the ball way too long on too many occasions. An unofficial clock averaged his holds to over 3.5 seconds.
On more than one occasion, the coaching staff was yelling for him to throw the ball. Jordan Palmer and rookie David Fales saw limited reps today but, neither show a reason to be the number 2 behind Cutler. Fales, like Clausen, seemed to be a little lost at times, holding the ball too long and being coached loudly for his indecisions.
Overall it was a successful first day of camp with no obvious injuries and only one scuffle between Eric Weems and Ryan Mundy. It amounted to a little more than some pushing and shoving that was quickly broken up. The work on the receiving corps in the off-season showed, as they looked in mid-season form in route running with few miscues.
Big questions after today’s practice is who will emerge as the second tight end, who will be the backup running backs and will the Shea McClellan Project bear fruit. These questions will need to be answered at full speed and in pads to get an honest evaluation so time will tell. See you tomorrow for more on camping with the Bears.