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Bears Notebook: Day 3 Training Camp Observations

For the second day in a row the Bears braved wet and cold conditions, but that didn’t stop James Fox from bringing you everything he saw on the ground from the first day of full pads practice for the Bears.

On Sunday, Matt Nagy’s squad held their first full padded workout on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. It was another unpleasant day as the players and Bears faithful had to endure wet and chilly conditions. There was still a pretty decent crowd for the first practice in actual football equipment though. I made my way down Interstate 57 South and noticed some interesting things while there.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone but the Chicago Bears defense appears to be ahead of the offense at this juncture. It’s also apparent that this offense is unlike any we’ve seen in Chicago in the past. Yes I know, Mike Martz and Marc Trestman were viewed as innovators as well and we’ve all heard the drill before. This offense is different though and the weapons are mixed interchangeably throughout the team sessions.

Wide Receiver

Allen Robinson is the guy that everyone was anxious to see and he was all over the field from a personnel and scheme standpoint. He lined up outside the numbers and in the slot on multiple occasions and seems to be full steam ahead in his recovery. He had a great catch and there’s video courtesy of The Ten-Yard Line below.

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Taylor Gabriel got lots of run with the 1st team and Josh Bellamy spelled Robinson on the outside quite a bit as well. Kevin White was featured a ton too. White is likely a roster lock at this point. He’s getting the majority of the reps with the #1 offense early on in camp and it benefits the organization to give him as many chances to stick as possible. White hauled in a deep ball from Mitch Trubisky late in camp that earned the biggest applause of the day.

Here is the play courtesy of DaBearsBrothers.

7th rounder Javon Wims is a big body and got some time with the #2 offense. Marlon Brown, Bennie Fowler III, Tanner Gentry and DeMarcus Ayers are also battling for probably one roster spot.

Scheme and Formations 

The Run-Pass Option was featured pretty prominently throughout practice and the majority of Trubisky’s snaps were taken out of the shotgun. There are lots of moving parts in this offense. There were early formations with Jordan Howard out wide at receiver and Tarik Cohen in the backfield. Cohen and Taquan Mizzell also were incorporated on jet sweeps with the first team. The wide receivers moved all over the formation groupings and there was a heavy use of pre-snap motion. The tight ends on this club will be featured prominently. Most of the formations on offense included an in-line tight end. Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Dion Sims were all featured heavily. Backup tight end Colin Thompson was also used quite a bit in the role that the injured Daniel Brown would normally fill.

Offensive Line

Harry Hiestand has made his presence felt early in camp from a coaching standpoint. Harry has been hailed as one of the best line coaches in the country and his old school style is readily apparent. He’s loud, constantly harping on technique, praising things that are done correctly and always teaching. He’s very detail oriented and whether one of his players is a veteran or a defensive line convert like Rashaad Coward, he’s just as likely to correct mistakes.

One of the promising aspects of practice was seeing Kyle Long taking part in individual drills and one on ones. Long appeared healthy and looked like he should be ready to go early in the pre-season. Eric Kush is the other starter at guard in the early going.

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Second round pick James Daniels is currently starting with the second group at LG. Hroniss Grasu and LT Bradley Sowell join undrafted rookies Brandon Greene (2017) and Dejon Allen (2018) to make out the rest of the group. Daniels is also receiving reps with the 3rd group at center. 2017 5th round pick Jordan Morgan is playing guard with the #3 offense early on.

The Defense

The story of camp in the early going is that first round pick Roquan Smith still isn’t signed. The defense hasn’t been “whole” yet in Bourbonnais but they still look solid early on. Nick Petrusevski said yesterday in his notes that CB Kyle Fuller had a big day. That continued today with the veteran corner making numerous plays on the football.

Fuller Interception courtesy of Greg Braggs on twitter.

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Deon Bush made some impressive plays with the 2nd team at strong safety and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him challenge Adrian Amos for some time in his 3rd season. DeAndre Houston-Carson was the other safety with the 2nd team. Cre’Von LeBlanc and Marcus Cooper were the 2nd team corners.

Undrafted rookie free agent Kevin Toliver II definitely looks the part at the position. He and fellow rookie Michael Joseph are both big, physical corners in the Fangio mold and they were the outside guys with the 3rd team. Former CFL standout Jonathon Mincy and 2016 4th rounder Deiondre Hall were with the 3rd team at safety.

Sam Acho lined up at OLB with the first team in Aaron Lynch‘s absence opposite Leonard Floyd and Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts were with the second team. Nick Kwiatkoski got some time with the outside linebackers in individual drills but mostly played next to John Timu in the base defensive package.

Eddie Goldman looks svelte and he joins Akiem Hicks as two of the most important Bears on the roster. 2016 third rounder Jonathan Bullard was getting time at DE in the base package and Roy Robertson Harris received reps with the first team as well.

Injury News

Danny Trevathan, Aaron Lynch and Sherrick McManis all missed today’s practice with hamstring issues. Tight End Daniel Brown sat out with an ankle injury and fourth round rookie linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe missed the workout with a shoulder injury.

Mitch Trubisky

Trubisky’s footwork has been spotty in the early going and his accuracy has waned at times. He doesn’t appear to be getting the ball out as quickly as expected at times either but he’s been playing in some pretty poor conditions. He made some nice throws today and used his tight ends quite a bit in team and 7 on 7 drills.

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I will be back in Bourbonnais covering Bears camp tomorrow for The Loop Sports. Make sure you are following us on twitter at @TheLoop_Sports and myself @JamesFox917.

Follow James Fox on Twitter—Feature Photo Credit: James Fox

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