By Dave Steuben
Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais, August 1st 2016
1. Jay Cutler is the Team's Leader
Cutler looked comfortable running Dowell Loggains' offense on Monday. He stayed calm in the pocket throughout practice and hit his receivers in stride. He did throw a early interception but it was on a tipped pass over the middle. Comparing Cutler to back-up QB Brian Hoyer, Cutler looked leaps and bounds ahead of him running the offense. Ka’deem Carey, 3rd year running back, said of Cutler “He’s the leader of this team. He is really intelligent, and he is definitely the captain when we're out there.” Cutler also looked very comfortable throwing to his new weapon Kevin White connecting a few times with him throughout practice. Overall, Cutler looks to be in mid season form.
2. The Wide Receiver Duo is Legit
Alshon Jeffery &Kevin White looked great on Monday at training camp. Both players brought a different aspect to the offense. Jeffery used his big frame to block out smaller cornerbacks in one on one drills. He was physical and crisp with his routes. He easily got open throughout the day for any one of the four quarterbacks throwing to him. Kevin White on the other hand, can be considered as more of the fine European sports car of the two talented wideouts. White quickly comes off the line with quick explosiveness. Cutler and White seem to already have a great relationship building after White sat out all of last year due to shin injury. White displayed great body control and hands as practice progressed. During red zone drills late in practice, White and Cutler connected for a touchdown. White beat the corner on a ten yard out route. White crossed the corners face on the goal line, and used his 6’3″ frame to get position for the score. If Jeffery, White, and Cutler can stay healthy this might be the start of something great.
3. Three Headed Monster at Running Back
Head coach John Fox is showing all of the indications that the Bears will use all three of their running backs this year. In practice, all three young running backs where able to get work: Jeremy Langford, Ka’deem Carey, and rookie Jordan Howard. Of the three, at the moment it looks like Langford will be the starter. Langford looks to be the most complete of the three running backs at the moment. Carey brings something different to the table when he runs the ball. Kyle Long, right guard of the Bears, said “you can hear when Ka’deem runs the ball”. The goal line is somewhere you might see Carey running the ball this year. Jordan Howard, the rookie fifth round pick from Indiana University, looked to still be learning the new offense early in camp. Howard has all the looks of a great power back in the NFL. (6’1″ 230lbs) Once Howard learns this offense he might be cutting into some of Langford's touches. Fox will lean on all three of these running backs throughout the year.
4. The New Middle Linebackers
Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman we’re both ranked second and third at their position for 3-4 middle linebackers. Bears Running back Ka’deem Carey, said about the linebacking duo “they are so good I have to go back and watch film after practice.” Remarks like that tell of how quick and instinctual the duo is. Trevathan comes to the Bears off of a Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos last season, and the Bears are hoping he can bring a winning attitude to the team this year. Jerrell Freeman also seemed to be a leader on the field when he was with his team on Monday. He was quick to hit gaps in the offense to stuff runs. Both players will help tremendously this season.
5. Can the Line Protect Jay?
On Monday there was one huge hole in the offensive line for the Bears. Three time Pro-Bowler Kyle Long was absent from practice, nursing a strained calf. However, the Bears have indicated it is nothing serious. Ted Larsen filled his spot on Monday, doing a solid job. 4 plays in to team on team drills, Larson started a scuffle with a Bears defensive lineman. Players at one point ran onto the field to help break up the fight. The intensity level on the line was game ready. Hroniss Grasu, second year center, looked to have put on some muscle in the offseason. Grasu got praise from his starting quarterback “he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I have no complaints about him.” Grasu will have to come up big for the Bears this year if they want to keep Cutler healthy. Bobbie Massie at right tackle almost blocks out the sun, and to say that Massie is massive might be a understatement. He’ll bring size to the line this year after being picked up in the offseason from the Cardinals. Massie did get beat a few times by quicker outside pass rushers but looked powerful run blocking throughout practice. Rookie Guard Cody Whitehair from Kansas State made his presence felt with the first team, fitting in well with his new teammates. Whitehair was quick and powerful in practice and should slide into the left guard position nicely for the Bears this season. General Manager Ryan Pace had good things to say about Charles Leno Jr. ”He has grown over the years and seems to be steady now at left tackle.” The Chicago Bears are ranked 30th by pro football focus, but seemed to play much better as a unit in practice.
The team looked intense and ready to play the season opener. Rookie first round pick Leonard Floyd did leave practice with a strained shoulder somewhat of a concern considering he looks underweight. Things seem to be trending upwards for this Bears team as they completed another day in pads at Bourbonnais.