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Bears Training Camp Digest — Day 2
On the eve of the first day in full pads, highlights from Day 2 of the Bears’ training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais:
1. Kelvin Hayden made a statement.
In the past year, Kelvin Hayden went from the favorite to start at nickelback to sitting out the season with a torn hamstring to being replaced by Tim Jennings.
Saturday, with Jennings on the sideline because of a sore quad, Hayden reminded the Bears of the skill level that, two years ago, saw him appear on 44 percent of the team’s downs. Hayden intercepted a Jay Cutler pass when the quarterback threw across his body to Marquess Wilson on a crossing route. Later, he returned a stripped ball.
When the Bears drafted Kyle Fuller in the first round, they put in a plan — on nickel packages, Jennings would play nickel and Fuller cornerback. While it’s hard to see a good camp from Hayden changing that, the team knows it needs depth.
“We’re excited to have Kelvin back,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We missed him last year. He’s back and he’s worked very, very hard to put himself in this position to compete for a job on this team. It’s good to see him have success today.”
2. Fight! Fight!
Training camp skirmishes aren’t anything groundbreaking, but the Bears had their first major dust-up Saturday. As they did during mandatory minicamp, defensive end Lamarr Houston and right tackle Jordan Mills carried their physical play far beyond the whistle.
Defensive end Willie Young, whose helmet came off during the fight, didn’t play another down afterwards, though Trestman said later he too had a tweaked quad.
“There’s times in practice when a player might lose his mind,” Trestman said. “The bottom line is, when we talk about it in meetings, fighting is a disciplinary issue. We would’ve lost both players; if it was a game, we would’ve lost both players.
“And it’s a safety issue. The guys who were involved in it were both remorseful and they don’t want it to happen. They know how it hurts a football team.
“The thing you like to see is that it didn’t linger. The team got back to work, there were no other altercations and I thought overall, when you have 99 percent of your practice that is cooperative with this kind of intensity, even though we are in shorts and not in pads, that’s the way we sell it to guys, that one play can lose players and it’s a safety issue.”
3. Khaseem’s feeling good.
Second-year linebacker Khaseem Greene intercepted a Jordan Palmer pass and ran it back for a fictional touchdown, and said later that he feels as good as he ever has as a pro. The 6-1, 241-pound Greene said he lost “a good amount of weight,” just shy 10 pounds.
“Two pounds makes a difference, man,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe how much of a different it makes weighing a couple pounds less. I’m so confident. I’m just trying to put it out on film everyday.”
Greene faces an uphill battle to get regular snaps, backing up Lance Briggs — the team’s only sure thing at linebacker — on the weak side. But he figures to make the team, contributing on special teams.
“We want Khaseem to put back-to-back practices together like he did today and make plays like that,” Trestman said. “And show he can do it on a consistent basis.”
4. Marty and Jay, working together.
In a two-minute drill, quarterback Jay Cutler looked for Martellus Bennett in the end zone — only to throw the ball too low and have it almost intercepted by linebacker Jon Bostic. After practice, Bennett and Cutler worked on the route for at least 10 minutes.
“Me and him have a different plan this year in camp — to constantly work on a different route each day,” Bennett said. “As a tight end, it’s really just about being in rhythm, just him knowing what’s going to happen on certain routes.
“So that way, he can just throw it to me without even thinking about it. So we’re just trying to take the thinking process out for both of us and make it more of a reaction thing, me reacting to his throws instead of him reacting to my body.
“So we’re just trying to be in the same spot and be on the same page for everything. So it’s really just us working, a little more chemistry as we can.”
5. The sky was a gray tableau Saturday, but the rain stayed away, and other things ….
Trestman said not to “draw any conclusions” about when backup quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer are inserted into practices, as coach Matt Cavanaugh is “mixing it up” among the second and third teams. … Guard/center Dylan Gandy, the eight-year veteran signed Friday, played right guard on the second team Saturday with Kyle Long still out with a viral infection …. Alshon Jeffery caught a 50-yard pass down the right sideline, and registered a 40-yarder minutes later, both against rookie free safety Brock Vereen. … Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff said rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton are “going to be playing in this league a long time.” …. The Bears are selling former players’ jerseys at a discount: starting at $50, fans at Olivet Nazarene University can buy replica Devin Hester, Julius Peppers and Henry Melton jerseys, and those bearing Shea McClellin’s former number, 99.