- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears veered off their traditional practice path Friday at Soldier Field by utilizing time typically spent for full team drills to shore up their red zone offense and defense.
The club worked the red zone extensively, devoting a relatively small portion of the workout to a full team session.
“You start off with our receivers. A lot of times it comes down to a jump ball down there (in the red zone),” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
“Alshon Jeffery (has) good height. Of course, Brandon Marshall, Kellen Davis; we have some good players that can make plays down there. Once you get down there, you need to get touchdowns. That’s why we spent a lot of time down there tonight.”
The Bears finished the 2011 season ranked 12th in red zone offense, scoring 183 points in 38 possessions inside the 20. The Bears scored touchdowns on 52.6 percent of their red zone possessions, and came away with 14 field goals from that distance.
Defensively, the Bears ranked No. 7 in red zone defense, allowing 25 touchdowns and 14 field goals.
Here are a few more quick-hitting observations from the club’s Family Fest at Soldier Field:
- J’Marcus Webb worked exclusively with the starters at left tackle for the third consecutive days, while his main competition for the starting job, Chris Williams, practiced with the second teamers at right tackle. Interestingly, undrafted rookie James Brown took repetitions with the second team at left tackle for the second straight workout.
- Although second-year man Stephen Paea received the bulk of the work with the starters during red zone team work, veteran Matt Toeania spent time there as well.
- Second-year running back Harvey Unga, who played in only one preseason game in 2011 before leaving the team for personal reasons, spent the majority of practice taking repetitions at fullback. After the workout, Unga revealed he’s also working some at tight end.
- Recently acquired defensive tackle Brian Price struggled to finish workouts in his first few days of camp, but participated on Friday without any setbacks while receiving increased repetitions.
- Veteran running back Lorenzo Booker drew excitement from the 27,352 on hand at Soldier Field when he caught a pass and juked several defenders for a big gain during a live full team drill near the end of practice.
- It appears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is doing some mixing and matching at the linebacker position. With Brian Urlacher out resting his sore knee, Nick Roach worked in his place at middle linebacker, while Blake Costanzo took reps with the starters on the strong side. Free-agent acquisition Geno Hayes also worked with the starters on the strong side. Jabara Williams, who was claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Rams last season, received second-team reps when the team deployed its nickel package.
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