The Bears wrapped up their 2012 rookie minicamp, a chance for coaches to evaluate their draft picks and undrafted free agents and even give a few guys a tryout. What did we learn this past weekend? Let’s see the Top 10.
10. The Bears signed 7 players who came in on a tryout basis. Among them is former Wisconsin-Whitewater and Lake Zurich high school quarterback Matt Blanchard, who impressed coaches enough to get an invite back to toss the ball around camp. Among others signed are:
Texas Southern wide receiver Joseph Anderson, Illinois State tight end Brandon Venson, Concordia tackle Tyler Hendrickson, Central Florida guard Nick Pieschel, Boston College punter Ryan Quigley and Connecticut kicker David Teggart.
9. Devin Hester will still be on kickoff returns. Well duh!
“Hester is our punt returner and he is our No. 1 kickoff returner,” Toub said Saturday after rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. “He is still our No. 1 kickoff returner.”
And leave it to Toub, he’s already working on new wrinkles to put into the return game:
“We can put (Weems and Hester) back there and if they kick away from Devin, they’ll kick it to Weems and we’ll be in good shape.”
8. Brandon Hardin impressed coaches on special teams and started working at Free Safety. Wait, I thought he was going to be a strong safety. What’s up with that?
During the draft, the Bears said Hardin would be worked primarily as a strong safety, but he spent the majority of the camp at free safety. That’s an easier transition for a cornerback and it’s the first phase. Eventually, he’ll learn both spots.
7. The Bears may have gotten a steal in undrafted rookie James Brown.
“He has stood out in the drills,” coach Lovie Smith said. “You notice him. He’s slim, athletic, good size, smile on his face and he was a pretty good player in college. However (he went undrafted), we’re just glad he’s in our camp.”
6. Shea McClellin shows good work ethic and plays with a motor. Lance Briggs thinks he’ll come in with something to prove:
“It seemed like it happened overnight. Boise State players, I think they come with a chip on their shoulders, with something to prove to the country. And now he’s going to come with something to prove in the NFL.”
5. Mike Tice wants to run a potent offense and might finally have the tools to do it.
“We’re going to play fast and we’re going to make sure the players are able to show us their speed and their explosiveness and their quickness and their toughness up front,” Tice said at this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
“We’re going to make sure that they know what we’re asking them to do, they can go out and play fast, not going on the football field thinking but going on the football field being athletes and athletic. We have some great athletes on offense. We have to put them as coaches in a position to show us and show the fans and show the people that love the Bears their athleticism and their explosiveness.
“We want to be explosive. We want to be able to get the ball down the field. We want to be able to run the ball explosively, and we’re going to do those things.”
Are you fired up about the offense yet?
4. Even Rodriguez is an interesting prospect. Dan Pompei called him a “waterbug tight end”. When I think of waterbug in the NFL, I think of Darren Sproles. So it Even Rodriguez the Darren Sproles of tight ends? Michael Wright doesn’t think he’s even the best TE in Bears camp. He told me so.
3. Alshon Jeffery “looked smooth” despite suffering some cramps. He was “picking peanuts” in some of the drills. Don’t ask me, ask Mike Tice what that means.
2. The draft picks ‘are who we thought they were,’ to paraphrase Lovie while borrowing a line from Dennis Green. You know Lovie, it’s all sunshine and balloons with him.
1. Nothing. We didn’t learn anything this weekend. It was a bunch of rookies running around in shorts and shells. Most of these guys don’t know their way to the bathroom. Wait until the veterans show up; wait ’til the pads start popping in Bourbonnais. Then we’ll start to see if Shea McClellin can beat an NFL right tackle to get to the quarterback. We’ll see if Alshon Jeffery and beat press coverage and “pick peanuts” off of veteran corners. We’ll see come September. We’ll see…