Special contribution from Matt Eurich.
After the pads went on Saturday night in Bourbonnais, the real football started. No longer are the players just walking through practice, but are expected to get to participate at near full strength in order to improve themselves and the team.
Here are my observations from Tuesday afternoon’s practice:
-The connection between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall continues to be the lead story at camp. Marshall made an impressive end zone catch on a fade route during goal line drills as well as making a few one-handed grabs throughout practice. Whenever they weren’t on the field during drills it appeared that Marshall and Cutler were typically near each other and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates spent a lot of time talking with them during special teams drills.
-It appeared that J’Marcus Webb took all first time snaps today with Chris Williams taking second team reps. The Bears have been adamant in their stance that it is an open competition and wouldn’t be surprised if Williams takes most if not all first team reps tomorrow.
-While watching defensive back drills, Brandon Hardin has continued to stand out to me. He is taller than most safeties and is built well. Hardin played the free safety with the 2′s and even though in my opinion he is more of a strong safety, he looks rather comfortable playing the free safety position.
-Veteran defensive ends Corey Wootton and Chauncey Davis were with the second team with Shea McClellin jumping in occasionally replacing one or the other. It appears that the Bears are willing to be patient with McClellin and let him ease himself into the position. During one on one drills against the offensive line, McClellin struggled mightily against Chris WIlliams. It is still far too early to panic about McClellin, the Bears are going to need to start seeing some improvement out of him quickly.
-Recently acquired Bear, Brian Price, had some difficulties in the one on one drills, with Edwin Williams completely dominating him. It eventually resulted in a shove from Price and the two had to be separated, but it was nothing more than a little frustration from Price. He doesn’t appear to be in the best shape yet and hasn’t quite gotten his legs under him, but given how thin the defensive tackle position is he will likely get a chance to hang on for a while.
-The interior of the offensive line looks like it will be a strong suit. Backups Chilo Rachal and Edwin Williams both looked great during one-on-one drills as did starters Lance Louis and Chris Spencer.
-Cornerback Tim Jennings had a productive day, tipped a few balls as well as making an interception on an attempted pass to Marshall running the slant. The big knock on Jennings was his inability to grab the interceptions last year, but so far in camp he has been able to do that.
-Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey continues to catch everything in sight and boasts another big target for Jay Cutler to find with ease. Jeffrey swapped in and out between the one’s and two’s but he played well whether it was Cutler or Jason Campbell throwing him the ball.
-Unless an injury occurs, undrafted rookie Matt Blanchard stands almost no chance of making the Bears 53-man roster but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets picked for the practice squad. Blanchard throws a nice ball and looked pretty smooth rolling out of the pocket during drills. He could be a development project moving forward but shouldn’t be considered anything more than a practice squad body for now.