Chicago Bears: Minicamp

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Here are some observations from the Chicago Bears' final minicamp workout of the offseason:

• The Bears wrapped up the three-month long offseason program without their projected two starters at wide receiver ever sharing the field together for an extended period of time. Offseason hip surgery limited four-time Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall to individual work at the end of OTAs last week and one day of minicamp, while a tight hamstring kept Alshon Jeffery off the field Tuesday and Wednesday. Jeffery did return on Thursday but only participated in limited individual drills.

"I think we turned it into a positive," Trestman said. "We got a great look at some of the young guys. They were ready to step in. We had very few, if any, mental errors there. They were running full speed and we were catching the football when we had the opportunity. So it was good for them to get the reps and get the reps against our top players on defense. Those are all good things.

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LAKE FOREST, iLL. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman invited former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon to Halas Hall during minicamp to speak to the team and work with its quarterbacks. Watching Jay Cutler up close for the first time, Gannon said the Bears signal caller "has a lot more talent than I ever had at that position."

Gannon worked with Trestman during stops in Minnesota and in Oakland in 2002, when the quarterback was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

Gannon said the key for Cutler and Trestman is to gain a high level of trust in one another.

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Trestman speeds up the clock on Cutler

June, 13, 2013
Jay CutlerAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThe Bears want Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball quicker in Marc Trestman's offense.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears spent the entire offseason program working with quarterback Jay Cutler on ways to get rid of the football in a more timely manner.

In an effort to speed up Cutler's release time, Bears coach Marc Trestman kept a verbal running clock on the practice field every time Cutler or the other two quarterbacks on the roster dropped back during 7-on-7 or 11-on-11.

Trestman wanted to drill into Cutler's head the importance of making quick decisions, as opposed to sitting in the pocket patting the football while waiting for a play to develop down the field. Cutler has always been considered a quarterback who prefers reaction over anticipation.

"I just want them to have a sense of urgency up there making the calls, assessing the defense, those types of things," Trestman said Thursday. "We'll have a clock in training camp so it will be easier on the voice. But I want them to get to the line of scrimmage. It's like any other quarterback in the league, time is of the essence. We've got a lot of work to do before the snap. It's the same everywhere. We just want to make sure we have that sense of urgency with every single play."

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday without defensive tackle Stephen Paea and safety Tom Zbikowski, who were both excused by the team for personal reasons.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhBrandon Marshall sat out most of minicamp but coach Marc Trestman says he should be ready for training camp.
In addition, the Bears practiced without receivers Brandon Marshall (hip), Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring) and safety Major Wright (undisclosed). Marshall and Wright participated during the individual portions of practice, but the staff held them out when the team broke into full team work.

Bears coach Marc Trestman said all the injuries are minor and each of the players will be ready in July for training camp.

"We came out of (minicamp) pretty much injury-free," Trestman said. "(There were) a couple of nicks; nothing where guys won't be available as we start training camp."

The team held out Jeffery as a precautionary measure for the second consecutive practice after the second-year receiver suffered a minor hamstring injury last week during organized team activities. Marshall and Wilson also missed their second straight practice.

Marshall participated in the first day of minicamp, but the Bears want to proceed with caution as the receiver recovers from offseason arthroscopic hip surgery.

"There was no plan," Trestman said of the team's approach to Marshall's recovery during the minicamp. "We just kind of took it as it has come during the days. We've left it up to Brandon to assess his body and where he is. We thought it was best collectively to keep him out of practice as much as we could, and we did. He'll be back ready to go next month."

With the starting receivers and Wilson out of action, the Bears gave the first-team repetitions to Earl Bennett and Joe Anderson, along with Eric Weems when the team executed three-receiver sets.

Jeffery caught 24 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games last season, but missed a total of six weeks because of a fractured hand and arthroscopic knee surgery. Marshall, meanwhile, is coming off a team record-breaking campaign in which he hauled in 118 balls for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Paea, meanwhile, was excused because he "had a family issue, nothing serious," Trestman said. Zbikowski's excused absence for personal reasons was "nothing out of the ordinary," according to the coach, who added, "He had a very good reason to leave, and I let him go."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With the Stanley Cup finals set to start Wednesday night, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said there's plenty his team can learn from the Chicago Blackhawks, who face the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the series at the United Center.

"I was just talking to some of the guys about the way the Blackhawks have handled their success throughout the season. It's the constant, daily mindset of just trying to get better. That's what you're hearing from their players," Trestman said. "They're a hard-working team. I've watched them play in person and on TV.

"You know, you can learn from the way they've built their team and how they've responded, not only to their success, but also to the periodic adversity they had throughout the year. So as professionals, coaches and athletes, we can learn from them and their success. I think we do watching them play."

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Hamstring sidelines Jeffery on first day

June, 11, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was relegated to being a spectator Tuesday during the club's first day of minicamp due to a minor hamstring injury he suffered at a prior offseason workout.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhBrandon Marshall had close to full participation during the Bears' minicamp Tuesday.
Jeffery's on-field absence allowed second-year wideout Joe Anderson to get more reps with the first team.

"[Jeffery] ran a go-route the other day and made a great play out there and just tweaked it a little bit," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We're just going to be as cautious as we can. We're trying to get out of here with every player being healthy, and keeping our team as safe as we can amidst the competition that you see going on out there."

Jeffery caught 24 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games last season, missing a total of six weeks due to a knee injury and a fractured hand.

While Jeffery rested his hamstring, fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall participated almost fully during Tuesday's session. Marshall took part in team drills Tuesday in front of the media for the first time this offseason. The Pro Bowler was limited to individual work last week at the Bears' final organized team activity as he continues to work his way back from offseason hip surgery.

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W2W4: Veteran minicamp starts Tuesday

June, 10, 2013
The Chicago Bears wrap up offseason work starting Tuesday with a three-day veteran minicamp at Halas Hall.

The team doesn’t convene again until July 25 at training camp.

Let’s take a look at a few things to keep an eye on during this three-day minicamp.

Who will participate: Given that this minicamp is mandatory, players without excused absences are subject to fines from the team. So look for the entire roster to show up minus rookie first-round pick Kyle Long, who won’t be able to attend. A possible starter at guard, Long won’t be eligible to attend due to an NFL rule that prohibits draft picks and college free agents from participating in offseason work until after final exams at their respective schools.

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Storms keep Marshall, Melton away

April, 18, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Travel-related issues caused by recent storms in the Chicagoland are believed to have forced a handful of Chicago Bears players to miss the final day of the club's voluntary three-day minicamp on Thursday, including Pro Bowlers wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive tackle Henry Melton.

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub clarified Devin Hester's role on kickoff returns Wednesday in the wake of the club adding former Pro Bowl return man/wide receiver Eric Weems to the roster in free agency.

Weems signed a three-year contract with the Bears on March 14 after spending the previous five seasons in Atlanta where he posted consecutive 1,000-yard return seasons (2009,10) on kickoffs for the Falcons.

[+] EnlargeDevin Hester
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDevin Hester will still be the Bears' go-to guy on kickoff returns.
"[Hester’s] still our No. 1 kickoff returner," Toub said. "So when we need a big one Devin is going to be in there. We have the luxury of having Eric Weems, so there will be times when we have them both back there. We'll kind of trick people as to who exactly is going to get the ball… we'll kind of move one guy up late. We'll also try to make them kick it away from Devin, maybe he can get the ball to Weems at times. There will also be times when just Weems is back there with a fullback. He's definitely a luxury for us. [Weems] can take it to the house, I mean he's scored touchdowns [on kickoff returns] and went to the Pro Bowl before.

"We're fortunate to have him."

Weems is expected to contribute in several phases of special teams, not just in the return game. Toub believes Weems can help replace 2011 Pro Bowl selection Corey Graham, who left the Bears in the offseason to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

"That's the good thing about him; he's a good returner but he's also a good cover guy," Toub said. "He's here because he's a good cover guy. He's a No. 1 gunner. He's done a good job in that role.

"The other guy who's going to pick up a lot of slack is Blake Costanzo. He was a really good pickup for us. Those two guys were our No. 1 free agents on special teams and we got them both. They're both really good additions."
Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery went down with leg cramp in the team's first rookie minicamp workout on Friday.

Trainers came out to stretch out Jeffery, but the 6-4, 229-pound second-rounder out of South Carolina couldn't continue and was taken off the field for precautionary reasons. He's expected to be fine.

"[He was just] cramping up," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "Guys do a lot of working out on their own, but it's not like when you come here and work out. I really liked what Alshon did earlier in practice, for most of the practice really. I didn't see him drop a ball. He's got great hands, is a big target and really liked the way he came in. He's going to be a good football player for us."

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice also was impressed with Jeffery.

"I saw him make a few plays over there in the one-on-ones," Tice said. "Back in the day, we called that 'picking peanuts.' He was picking peanuts off some guys’ heads it looked like to me. So I think he’s gonna have the ability for us to make plays.

"You could tell he has some explosiveness about him. You could tell he has some ball skills. That’s why we drafted him so high. You can tell that he’s gonna be a playmaker for the Bears for 2012, and hopefully for many years to come."