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Bears training camp digest — 5 observations from Day 4
An overview of Day 4 of Bears training camp in Bourbonnais:
1. It’s early.
It’s rarely good in the news business to say nothing happens or nothing matters. But the fact of the matter is that as long as nobody got hurt, virtually nothing that happens in the first few days of training camp is remotely definitive. Rookie wide receiver Marquess Wilson, the seventh-round pick from Washington State, showed why he was considered a potential first-round draft pick a year ago at this time when he made a leaping catch of a deep ball early in Sunday’s practice. But let the record show he made the catch against undrafted rookie Demontre Hurst. Likewise, J’Marcus Webb was beaten on more than one occasion in practice. But he’s playing right tackle for the first time in two years. It’s early.
2. The offensive line is — what else? — a work-in-progress.
The defensive line won the battle of the trenches in the first day in pads, but that’s not a big surprise. Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Corey Wootton and Stephen Paea & Co. should get the best of an offensive line with four players in new positions this season — LT Jermon Bushrod and LG Matt Slauson were signed as free agents. RG James Brown played in only five games last season and started the final three games at LG. And J’Marcus Webb started at LT the past two seasons.
‘‘The first day of pads is always tough,’’ Bushrod said, ‘‘because you’re on offense and you’re kind of sitting back and trying to figure out the best position for you to be in. Sometimes there was a blitz, sometimes guys aren’t in the right place at the right time. It happened to me a couple of times today. I got a little anxious thinking I can be too aggressive on some of these guys. They’re quick inside and they have blitzes inside, so you’ve got to continue to be patient. That just comes with the more live reps that we get.’’
3. Now it should get a little interesting.
Unlike spring training, the dog days of football training camp are the beginning, when everything is rudimentary and there are no games for two weeks. Once the games start, you have something to work off of. That said, now that a full practice in pads is in the books, it’ll be interesting to see just how quickly changes are made. Will Kyle Long get more first-team reps at RG? Will Jonathan Scott get first-team reps at RT? How quickly will rookie LBs Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene get more opportunities to show what they can do? The new regime doesn’t waste a lot of time — that’s why TE Evan Rodriguez and OL Gabe Carimi are no longer here. For better or worse, they make decisions quickly. That can lead to mistakes, but also prevents anyone from getting too comfortable or pacing themselves. We’ll see just how well that works for Marc Trestman’s team.
4. Don’t expect too much too soon from Kyle Long.
The rookie from Oregon is getting some first-team reps at RG behind James Brown, but even he admitted it’s a long process. ‘‘It hasn’t been an extremely fast learning curve,’’ he said after practice Sunday. ‘‘But I’m trying to pick it up as I go. There’s a lot of stuff that you learn as you get more reps and that what I tend to do — try to get as many reps as possible and learn, trial by fire.’’
Long said his footwork is a key area of development. ‘‘Getting your feet in the right position underneath you is half the battle of an offensive lineman,’’ he said. ‘‘Next thing is knowing where to look. If my feet are one place and my eyes are in the wrong place, there’s no way I can get to the right place. That’s just something I’m trying to work on.’’
5. Knock on wood, the Bears are healthy.
Now that the Bears are in pads — though they’re hitting at a minimum level — injuries become a greater concern. The Broncos (center Dan Koppen), Ravens (tight end Dennis Pitta) and Eagles (wide receiver Jeremy Maclin) already have lost key players to season-ending injuries suffered during training camp. The Bears are still at full strength four days into camp. With so much teaching going on with a first-year coaching staff, it’s important to have as many players as possible healthy and practicing every day. Stay tuned.