Jul 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) and fullback Tony Fiammetta (43) go through footwork drills during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
You can read all the print that you want about how players look at camp, but nothing compares to seeing it first-hand. On a sunny but slightly breezy day from Bourbonnais (no rhyme intended), the story lines and regular season build up kept flowing. Here were some important story lines from Monday’s camp:
No Major Injuries
This is always the most important area to report from camp. Alshon Jeffrey sat out with a foot injury which is not serious, Kyle Long has a viral infection and is day-to-day, Matt Slausen left with a sore shoulder and Jeremiah Ratliff got the day off. Tim Jennings did miss his 3rd straight practice with a sore quad. All in all, none of these injuries look to be anything to worry about.
This is looking to be one of the deepest units early on in camp. Jennings sitting out has opened the door for playing time from rookie Kyle Fuller and veteran Kelvin Hayden. The Hayden resurrection continues as he added another interception off of a Cutler deflected pass. Fuller and Brandon Marshall had some great battles that ended with some Marshall drops. The drops aside, Marshall seemed to have a step on the rookie all day but the battle was entertaining to watch. This position group is shaping up to be a strong one in 2014 and I would not be surprised if the Bears keep 6-7 corners.
Chris Williams/Martellus Bennett
Everyone’s been talking about this Chris Williams guy, so I had to see for myself. I have to say, he didn’t disappoint. Whether it was Clausen, Palmer or Cutler, he seemed to be one of the quarterback’s favorite targets while also getting some first team reps. He possesses great hands, he’s very quick and he can return punts. There’s a lot to be excited about with Williams. In the post practice interview, OC Aaron Kromer said of Williams:
"“When you have a guy that fast, you don’t need to be as accurate because you know he’s going to get to the ball.”"
Martellus Bennett out-willed defenders to catch a few red zone touchdowns from Cutler. Cutler found Bennett twice in the red zone on a seam route – hopefully a preview of what’s to come this year.
There’s a Punter Competition, Folks
I know, I know…no one cares about the punter. However, last year this position killed the Bears and if you’re one of those that thinks “since the Bears drafted a punter he automatically makes the team,” you may want to think twice. Rookie 6th round draft choice, Pat O’Donnell, was very inconsistent and did not have a great day. It was 24-year old, Tress Way, that stole the punting show Monday, and has been said by many to have outperformed O’Donnell so far.
The back up quarterback position seems to be the most unclear of all of the position battles. It didn’t get any clearer today as Jordan Palmer started with the second team, but Clausen ended the day with them. Clausen led a pretty impressive 2 minute drill to end practice as Palmer has had better days. In the post practice interview, coach Trestman was very non-committal to Clausen, Palmer or Fales stating that this is an “open competition and will remain an open competition.”
It will be interesting to see how these battles play out as we are just 41 days away from the season opener! Bear Down!