On Sunday, I attended my first-ever Bears training camp practice. The players went full pads and only one guy did not participate (Chris Harris). There was a lot to digest, but with almost everyone in action, I jotted down some random observations.
I know it’s only one practice and I don’t want to make any broad generalizations…but I will anyways since it makes for better reading…
For what it’s worth, here they are:
The Bears shiny new defensive toy – #90 Julius Peppers – looks, acts and plays like he might actually be worth the $92 mil he signed for…okay, maybe only $60 mil. When they went 1s vs. 1s, he consistently put pressure on Cutler, regardless of whether he was lined up on the left or right side. And it was nice to see him stop to sign autographs for fans on his way back to the locker room.
Everything I had read and seen about Anthony Adams prior to Sunday’s practice made me a fan of #95. After what I saw on Sunday, I’m ready to anoint myself President of the Double A fan club. His energy stood out like the dude in the crowd who had the balls to wear the purple AP #28 jersey. Adams was the first guy out running warm-ups. Then, during position drills, when other d-linemen slapped the final tackling dummy after running the gauntlet, Adams completely laid out to pulverize it, drawing cheers from the crowd. Not surprisingly, AA ran with the 1st team D-line.
Speaking of defensive tackles…TE Brandon Manumaleuna has the body of one. He’s noticeably wider than any of the other leaner tight ends, but his receiving skills were on display when he made a nice one-handed grab…running half speed…against no coverage.
Even with Brian Urlacher returning after sitting out the previous day’s practice, my focus at LB was on who would run with the 1st team on the strong side. The answer – Nick Roach, not Pisa Tinoisomoa. Pisa may work his way back into the starting line-up come opening day, but Roach will warrant some significant playing time…I don’t mean just on special teams.
Don’t over-react to Jay Cutler completing a combined 24 of 30 passes in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Knowing he wasn’t going to get hit, he held onto the ball longer, which allowed more time for his receivers to get open. The true test of Cutler’s grasp of the offense will come in the preseason games when he faces pressure that won’t ease up on him.
Frank Omiyale had two false starts in the first of 10 consecutive running plays the Bears ran vs. the first-team D. He was replaced by someone named James Marten. And that’s all I have to say about that.
As a fan, you can’t help but get excited seeing Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers on the field at the same time. I know recent performances are one thing, but lining up 4 current or former All-Pros on one side of the ball could cause a fan (like me) to have some serious delusions of grandeur.
It’s still weird to see someone other than Mike Brown wearing #30 for the Bears. DJ Moore – you may be a nice guy and all, but you’re no Mike Brown.
You hear about a lot of teams that wait till the end of practice to work on special teams. Not the Bears. They ran field goal and punt drills within the first 20 minutes of practice. It’s obvious to see why Coach Toub’s units are flat out THE BEST in the league.
Say what you will about Lovie Smith, but there’s one thing you have to give him props for – since he joined the team in 2004, the Bears have more takeaways than any other team in the league. Why? It’s an attitude that starts in training camp, where you’ll see defenders pick up any loose ball that touches the ground – including incompletions – and run towards the opposing end zone like it was the game-winning play in overtime of a playoff game.
And who says Lovie runs a laid-back camp? He kept those poor guys almost 20 minutes later than the scheduled two hours…in nearly 90-degree heat. The veterans were so tired they made the rookies carry their shoulder pads back to the locker room.
Overall, my visit to Chicago Bears Training Camp 2010 (sponsored by Staples and presented by Chase) was an awesome experience that every Bear fan should attend at some point in your life. The atmosphere was super fan and family friendly.
Kudos to the Bears and the city of Bourbonnais for pulling off such a cool event. If any of you were there, let me know what you think. I’m sure I missed something when I was corralling my 4-year-old boy.
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