Day 3 of training camp featured the first day of padded practice and BGO’s invitation to sit at the grown-up table and cover practice along with the rest of the main stream media. I could tell that some of the “regulars” were somewhat annoyed to share the sidelines with us low-down, dirty bloggers, but tough rocks. With staff writer and newly promoted site photographer Mike Praser snapping a ton of quality photos and soaking up the camp experience from a new vantage point, we had a great view of practice.
It was a cool day in Bourbonnais, more like an early October morning than a late July day. In his post-game interview with the media, rookie guard Kyle Long even quipped, “I thought it’s supposed to be hot here.” The practice moved very quickly between positional drills and full 11-on-11 sessions. I was impressed with how well organized and orchestrated everything was. No wasted movements, no down time. Just go, go go.
The pads were popping, but it was not a terribly physical practice. There was no tackling and no real hitting beyond the line of scrimmage. I remember back in the days of Platteville when they would have the inside run drill and the battles were really intense. The closest we got to that were some blocking drills where Kyle Long showed off his strength and took Nate Collins to the ground.
In general, the defense was way ahead of the offense. They looked to be more polished and confident. Not surprising for a group that is basically running the same system with mostly the same players. The difference did not escape Coach Trestman’s keen eye:
“I thought the defense had the jump start on us today,” Trestman said after practice. “There were defensive players who had edges, and we have to clean up some of the things inside, and we’ll do that.”
Here are my other notes, in bullet point form:
- Let’s call it progress, but Jay Cutler’s first pass wasn’t intercepted; he threw it away.
- There were a TON of checkdowns. At least Cutler will not shy away from hitting the underneath routes.
- The re-vamped offensive line needs a LOT of work. The defense worked on blitzed on Sunday and the O-line was clearly not ready, as defenders spent more time in the backfield than the offense.
- J’Webb Nation was conquered multiple times on Sunday. My only question is whether or not Shea McClellin or Corey Wootton will be declared the new leader. J’Webb did not look good as he was beaten multiple times.
- Kyle Long impressed in individual drills, but still had a dreaded false start in team work. Like many rookies, there will be ups and downs.
- Martellus Bennett is a HUGE dude. He will give teams fits in the middle of the field and in the red zone.
- Alshon Jeffery is clearly the #2 wide receiver at this point. He was consistently lining up with Marshall and Martellus Bennett in multiple formations, including some where Bennett was on the outside and Marshall and Jeffery were left inside.
- Jeffery made the play of the day when he got behind Tim Jennings to catch a bomb off a play fake. That brought the crowd to their feet.
- Sight seen – Martellus Bennett and Brandon Marshall catching TD passes on consecutive plays in the red zone portion of practice. I think this is where Trestman can add the most value. Turn those Robbie Gould field goals into Touchdowns instead.
- The crowd also roared any time the defense made a big play. Craig Steltz picked up a forced fumble and rumbled towards the end zone, although it looked to me like he’d stepped out of bounds.
- Rookie receiver Marquess Wilson had a nice reception of a deep ball, but in true rookie fashion, he let Isaiah Frey steel one right out of his arms for a highlight interception.
- I predict… undrafted free agent Josh Lenz could become this year’s version of Dane Sanzenbacher. He fits the mold of training camp hero – small, undersized, try-hard white guy. Just remember, you read it here first, when he’s racked up some garbage time yardage in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game.
- I could have sworn I saw Josh McCown run a read-option type of play, but with all of the chaos in the backfield, maybe it was just a busted play.
- Coach Trestman would like to have his offensive line in order by the start of the regular season, if not sooner. He said they could rotate six lineman in the meantime. For my money, they should consider rotating seven.
- Trestman plans to have the Bears in pads the rest of their time in Bourbonnais, although they could back off the pads and go to shells if needed. Judging by the level of physicality of this practice, they might as well keep the pads on.