One More Overview From Camp; Wednesday 7/30/2014

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  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Bears practice report: Observations and though


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    Bears training camp
    Bears running back Matt Forte catches a ball during receiving drills. (Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune /July 30, 2014)


    By Rich Campbell, Tribune reporter
    7:32 p.m. CDT, July 30, 2014

    BOURBONNAIS — The Bears on Wednesday returned to practice, their fifth of training camp. Here are some thoughts and observations from the session.

    1. Michael Irvin, Hall of Fame receiver and NFL Network analyst, had a lot to say — as usual — while he watched Bears Pro Bowl receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery during practice.

    Irvin pointed out how Marshall uses his size and speed to separate on horizontal routes. At 6-foot-5, Marshall is imposing. So when Marshall bears down (pun intended!) on a cornerback at the top of his route, a cornerback has to respect Marshall’s physical presence, sometimes by backing off. That often helps Marshall create space coming out of his break.

    He lauded Jeffery’s fluidity and spatial awareness after Jeffery caught a deep pass from quarterback Jay Cutler near the right sideline at the end of practice. From a wide split, Jeffery drove his route up the field, pushing rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller inside. That created space for Cutler to target his pass toward the sideline. Cutler exploited the space with an accurate throw that Jeffery ran underneath and caught. Irvin appreciated how Jeffery created the space for himself with his route direction and then smoothly got back to the outside.

    After practice, Fuller said he must be more aware of the space between him and sideline and narrow that to limit Cutler’s margin for error and Jeffery’s range to catch the ball. Such lessons are part of his daily development at this point.

    2. Sixth-round rookie David Fales is getting the fewest snaps of any quarterback, but his development continues.

    When he was pressured during team drills, he climbed the pocket to extend the play. He kept both hands on the ball — a technique coach Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh want their quarterbacks to prioritize in the pocket — and maintained a sound, athletic base. That enabled him to keep his eyes downfield and complete a pass to Chris Williams over the middle.

    On a similar play earlier in camp, Fales’ legs were too close together as he shuffled forward. That resulted in him being too upright. He had to quickly reset into a throwing position, but the awkwardness resulted in an errant pass.

    “You don’t want to start leaning in,” Fales said. “Just move with your feet and have that good base. You always have to keep working because sometimes you’ll get in a bad habit where you take your hand off the ball and move.”

    3. Quarterback Jordan Palmer made one of his best throws of training camp, a 20-yard completion down the right seam to tight end Dante Rosario. He recognized a soft spot in the defense when linebacker Khaseem Greene showed an 'A' gap blitz. Greene didn’t drop deep enough into coverage in time to cover Rosario, and Palmer dropped the ball in without trouble. It probably was a simple read, but Palmer executed it.

    4. Second-round rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson jumped offside twice in the same repetition during one-on-one drills. He flinched at a hard count and was allowed to reset. Then he jumped again. He has been victimized by a hard count several times since one-on-ones began on Sunday. It’s a product of how much he has to digest mentally during his first training camp. His concentration must improve.

    5. Matthew Mulligan continues to practice as the No. 2 tight end behind Martellus Bennett. Coaches like Mulligan’s ability to contribute in both the running and passing games, and he showed that Wednesday.
    On a running play to the left during team drills, he engaged defensive end Austen Lane on the right side of the formation and kept his legs churning while the entire offensive line moved left. That helped Mulligan stay square to Lane and avoid a holding penalty. Later, Mulligan caught a short pass and held on after linebacker Jon Bostic hit him.

    Rosario’s special teams value was one reason he stuck with the Bears last season. But Mulligan and Rosario were on the field at the same time Wednesday as part of the first-string kickoff return unit. If Mulligan can show in the preseason games that he can be an asset on special teams, it would be his job to lose.

    6. This has been a competitive camp, just as Bears general manager Phil Emery intended it, and that doesn’t apply only to those battling for jobs.

    Running back Matt Forte and cornerback Kelvin Hayden — two veterans — went down together during a running play in team drills. Forte was irritated and began jawing at Hayden. Forte gave the ball to Hayden as they kept chirping. Then Forte and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff yelled at each other to “Shut up!” as Forte walked back to the huddle. The fire is a good sign, particularly among veterans. It shows they’re engaged and working hard.

    7. Running back Ka’Deem Carey changed directions without breaking stride on separate outside runs during team drills. That’s one reason why he’s tough to tackle. His vision and smooth feet helped him stay at top speed.

    8. I’ve mentioned the Jermon Bushrod-Jared Allen matchup in one-on-ones a couple times now because it’s appointment viewing. Two former Pro Bowlers squaring off.

    On one rush Wednesday, Bushrod was patient in his set as Allen tried to set him up by widening his rush. When Allen worked back to the inside, Bushrod was in position because he hadn’t committed yet.

    9. Eric Weems continues to flash as a receiver. The core special teamer caught a deep corner route from Cutler with cornerback Charles Tillman trailing him. The catch required sharp concentration in a tight space near the sideline.

    rcampbell@tribune.com
    Twitter @Rich_Campbell
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Best news; We may have found our all around #2 TE. Mulligan is gaining ground.

    Worst News; Our two prize rookie DTs still have a lot to learn before they're ready.

    Kiss Your Kid Sister News; Weems can actually get open and catch. :4 14 1[1]:
  3. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    From what I've been reading something has lit a fire under Weems' ass this TC. Maybe it's taking a pay cut or maybe it's the prospect of being cut (see Bennett, Earl). Let's see if he can contribute on O in PS games.

    Yeah, no surprise that rookie draft picks have a lot to learn. I'm positive about Ego, Sutton, and Vereen for the future but I'm realistic about the present. Definitely keep Nate Collins as a vet backup, for example. And hint for all the Conte haters out there: we need CC back and healthy because he's our best pure FS on the roster right now.
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  4. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    I am still hopefull we got an upgrade over CC but if he is the best we have then put him in there. Hopefully he will show improvement, if not Vereen or a draft pick next year will be needing to step it up.
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  5. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Right now it's tough to figure out exactly what we have in Conte. His arrow was pointing up in his second year and then came the 2013 disaster and that's all many can focus on. As bad as it seems the coaches still graded him at an acceptable level or he'd be gone by now too.

    There's all this talk about upgrading Conte but what happens if Conte upgrades himself? I realize that's hard to picture with him sitting out but he's still had plenty of time to review game tapes and see where he made some mistakes or misplayed something.

    If it was only the physical elements a FS had to be concerned with then Vereen would probably be the starter but it's not. Like it or not Vereen will make the same rookie mistakes Conte did 3 years ago when he was asked to start as a rookie.

    I'm not in love with Chris Conte as much as I'm liking the idea of having some experience and continuity at that Safety position for a change instead of the revolving door crap we all witnessed for almost a decade.

    Once Conte returns and plays in a preseason game or two we'll have a better idea of how it's gonna work out. For a change we actually have some depth there even if that depth lack star quality players other than a guy like Wilson.
  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Don't you get the feeling this defense has a long ways to go before the regular season begins? There is a lot to be excited about, as far as the ceiling potential. But right now it's more of a "work in progress" than we're used to seeing in Chicago - even in a training camp scenario. A lot of new pieces, and some youngsters who are just beginning their NFL journey. It's going to be interesting to see how this unfolds in the early part of the regular season. We could have an incredible offense right out of the gate, and a defense that is pretty rough in the initial games, but gets better as the season progresses. I'm preparing myself to not loose heart if the defense looks rough early on. It should improve.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I'm actually expecting it to be other way around because it usually is. So much off that offense is about timing and coordination that I think they need some momentum working for them in order to get up to full speed.

    What helps the defense is the sheer number of vet starters we'll have. If I had to select a starting lineup today there would be one rookie playing, Fuller. The rest would all be in reserve or in a rotation.
  8. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That's a good point and it could very well be the case. I was thinking that one good thing about J.Allen is that he'll know the NFCN offenses well, and of course he'll know the Vikes OL having gone up against them in practice.
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