Friday, April 16, 2010
Offseason workout observations
By Jeff Dickerson
Bears safety Craig Steltz was inactive for four weeks late in the season.
With the Chicago Bears' offseason voluntary workout program now three weeks old, here are a few interesting tidbits since players reconvened on March 29.
The Bears are expected to add a safety [perhaps two] via the draft or free agency, so nothing personnel-wise is even remotely close to being set in stone. But Craig Steltz [free] and Josh Bullocks [strong] have been lining up with the first team at safety. Danieal Manning's absence from the workouts also clouds the picture, but it should be pointed out both Steltz and Bullocks graded out well in the final two regular season games. It's still odd certain members of the organization view Steltz -- inactive for four weeks late in the season -- as a free safety, but again, it's only April. Remember, Steltz worked with the first team all last offseason at free safety, only to quickly lose his spot on the depth chart at the start of training camp.
Sticking with the secondary, Corey Graham has been getting a chance to run with the first team at cornerback along with incumbent starter Zack Bowman. Veteran Charles Tillman has not been present at the workouts, but there is likely no need to raise any red flags over Tillman's absence, especially when you take into account all the unfortunate family issues he's had to deal with. While football is a top-priority, nothing comes before taking care of your own family. Tillman is also coming off a bruised lung and cracked ribs, so there's no reason for a seven-year veteran to push his body prematurely this early in the spring.
Newly signed Tim Jennings and D.J. Moore have been working almost exclusively at the nickel spot during the first three weeks at Halas Hall. Reports out of Lake Forest indicate Moore's attitude is greatly improved, a nice turn of events, because the former fourth-round pick is talented despite standing only 5 foot 9.
Second-year wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias is said to have lost weight, and looks like a different player than he did in year one, according to workout observers. Maybe Iglesias turns out to be this season's Earl Bennett, a guy who struggled as a rookie, but put together a productive sophomore campaign. Of course, we'll see for sure when the pads come on this summer, but it would be interesting if Iglesias makes a push for playing-time in that crowded group at wide receiver.
With restricted free agent Jamar Williams still staying away from workouts, Tim Shaw and Kevin Malast have been working with the second team at linebacker. Shaw is a lock to make the team because of his outstanding contributions on special teams, and Malast -- signed to the practice squad back on Dec. 2 -- performed admirably last preseason before getting cut. Hunter Hillenmeyer has been at Halas Hall, but hasn't participated in the team drills.