Chicago Bears: 2014 NFL Training Camp

Most significant move: After finishing last season on the injured because of a hamstring injury in training camp, veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden made it through the preseason healthy and appeared to perform well throughout camp and the preseason to make the team. Perhaps Hayden became a victim of the numbers game, as the Chicago Bears decided to go into the regular season without him. The Bears drafted Kyle Fuller in the first round, and he turned heads throughout the preseason which likely gave the club enough confidence to use him opposite Charles Tillman on passing downs, while sliding Tim Jennings inside to the nickel. Hayden has proved to be a capable at both cornerback spots and at nickel. So by cutting Hayden the Bears lose solid veteran depth at corner.

Too little, too late: Eben Britton could be considered somewhat of a surprise cut. Britton played 13 games last season and started in four games, but pulled a hamstring early in camp which limited his availability throughout the preseason. Britton played in only the preseason finale at Cleveland because of the injury, and didn’t perform particularly well when called upon. Receiver Chris Williams entered training camp as one of the favorites to win the job as Chicago’s primary return man. But like Britton, Williams missed too much time because of a hamstring injury suffered Aug. 8 while catching a 73-yard touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles. Britton and Williams should catch on with other teams as both are capable of playing in the NFL. But hamstring injuries limited their opportunities to show what they could do for the Bears, and the team couldn’t give either the benefit of the doubt in making Sunday’s decisions.

Whacked again: Defensive end Austen Lane wrote this great account of what it’s like to get cut last year for The MMQB. At the time, Lane was getting ready to try again with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’d eventually be cut again. Lane ended up appearing in two games with the Detroit Lions last season, only to be waived 22 days after the club signed him. The Bears signed Lane on Feb. 27, but the veteran failed to nab a roster spot in what seemed to be a logjam at the defensive end position despite performing solidly.

What’s next: With cuts now out of the way, the Bears will establish a 10-man practice squad by the end of the weekend before turning their attention to the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Team moves: WR Josh Bellamy, C Taylor Boggs, DT Brandon Dunn, LB Jerry Franklin, OG Ryan Groy, LB DeDe Lattimore, CB Al Louis-Jean, WR Dale Moss, DT Lee Pegues, DT Tracy Robertson, S Marcus Trice, WR Chris Williams, CB C.J. Wilson, OT Eben Britton, CB Kelvin Hayden, DE Austen Lane, S M.D. Jennings.

Chicago Bears' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
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Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Fales looked good in the first half of the preseason finale at Cleveland, but fell off somewhat in the second half. Still, Fales showed enough to prove he belongs. There's still a chance the Bears try to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch made late pushes in extended action to close the preseason, but neither will overtake Draughn and Carey.

RECEIVERS (5)
Josh Bellamy made a strong case to make the team against the Browns, but Holmes showed he's still a dynamic player. In fact, if Holmes grasps the offense quickly enough, he could wind up as the No. 3 receiver, which would mean Wilson's time will have to wait.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the No. 2 spot, and should stick.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Britton returned to play in the preseason finale and while other players have flashed, the veteran is probably still the most consistent.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Cornelius Washington and David Bass, received extension action against the Browns. The Bears have a tough decision here, but would likely go with Bass' experience.

LINEBACKERS (6)

This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.

CORNERBACKS (6)

The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.

SAFETIES (4)

The Bears released Craig Steltz and M.D. Jennings didn't show much in the last preseason game.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears could decide to use Holmes as the return man and make Bellamy the sixth receiver. Initially though, the Bears will probably take a chance on Williams although he missed the majority of the preseason due to a hamstring injury.
Most significant move: The Chicago Bears officially made Jimmy Clausen the No. 2 quarterback and jettisoned Jordan Palmer, who quickly signed with the Buffalo Bills. While Clausen and Palmer aren’t considered proven commodities, the latter had more familiarity and experience in Chicago’s offense. Jay Cutler hasn’t played an entire 16-game regular season since 2009, so it’s almost a given that at some point in 2014 the Bears will need to lean on the backup quarterback. That’s not to say the Bears made the wrong move, because Clausen appears to be the better player. Interestingly, Palmer signed with Chicago’s Week 1 opponent: the Buffalo Bills. So there’s a good chance the Bills are pumping Palmer for information on Chicago’s offense.

The end of a career? The Bears signed Adrian Wilson hoping he still possessed many of the physical traits that made him one of the NFL’s most dominating safeties over the years. Had Wilson panned out, he would have given the Bears the type of physical presence on the back end they haven’t had since Mike Brown roamed the secondary. The Bears gave Wilson plenty of opportunities to earn a spot on the team, but he never flashed the brilliance that made him such a force for so many years with the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson says he’s a “prideful person,” but at this point it appears his career is over.

What’s next: The Bears finish out the preseason on Thursday at Cleveland, and upon returning they’ll start to finalize the roster heading into the Aug. 30 cutdown date before beginning preparation for the regular-season opener against the Bills.

Bears' cuts: QB Jordan Palmer, KR/PR Darius Reynaud, LB Jordan Senn, RB Michael Ford, WR Greg Herd, WR Kofi Hughes, OT Joe Long, RB Derricus Purdy, DB Peyton Thompson, DT Nate Collins, OG Dylan Gandy, S Adrian Wilson, S Craig Steltz, OG James Brown, B Isaiah Frey.

Chicago Bears' projected roster

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
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Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
If there's a change here, it would only involve the release of Fales because Clausen has earned the No. 2 spot over Jordan Palmer, who was released on Sunday. The team likes Fales as a developmental player.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Draughn appears to have a firm hold on the No. 2 job, and the Bears released Michael Ford, leaving Carey as the only potential candidate for the backup running back job. Draughn should open the regular season as Forte's backup.

RECEIVERS (5)

Nothing changes here as Morgan showed enough in the preseason to secure a spot. Holmes' superior talent warrants the Bears keeping him around as they continue to look for a temporary replacement for Wilson.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the second spot, and none of his competitors have stood out.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Injuries to De La Puente, Mills and Britton give cause for concern considering none have put in any quality repetitions during preseason games.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

The Bears released Nate Collins on Sunday, which could leave an extra spot for either Cornelius Washington or David Bass. If the Bears go with 10 defensive linemen, Bass could make the cut.

LINEBACKERS (6)

This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.

SAFETIES (5)

The Bears released Adrian Wilson, as age and injuries appear to have caught up to him. The Bears probably won't keep five safeties, but if they do, it'll come down to Steltz and M.D. Jennings.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears let go Chad Rempel, which means Hartson probably won the training camp competition. Williams missed the club's last game due to a sore hamstring, and needs to play in the preseason finale to secure a spot.

Chicago Bears' projected roster

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
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Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Clausen appears to have passed Jordan Palmer, but Bears coach Marc Trestman maintains the situation remains fluid. Fales' delivery looks a bit odd, but he knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and anticipates well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The distribution of snaps through the first two games doesn't favor Michael Ford making the team. Trestman recently said Ford is somewhat behind Carey and Draughn on the depth chart. Draughn appears to have solidified the No. 2 spot.

RECEIVERS (5)

Wilson will miss time, but the Bears recently signed Holmes to come in and compete for the No. 3 position. With the club releasing Eric Weems, Holmes should have a legitimate opportunity to stick. Chris Williams needs to get back into the mix. He's missed time with a hamstring injury.

TIGHT ENDS (2)
Zach Miller appeared to be well on his way to claiming the second tight end position, but a torn ligament in his foot landed him on injured reserve. Rosario is the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the second spot.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Injuries to De La Puente, Mills and Britton have given younger players more repetitions, but this position appears to be too deep for any of the younger players to make an impact. This is one of the team's deepest positions.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Scott and Lane have come on strong, and they could actually become regular contributors in the defensive line rotation.

LINEBACKERS (6)

McClellin and Bostic played better in the club's second preseason outing, but the former doesn't exactly inspire confidence as the starting strong side linebacker. In a perfect world, Bostic, Williams and Briggs are the three starters, but it appears McClellin will wind up in the starting lineup.

CORNERBACKS (5)

McManis has put together arguably the best camp of all the players at this position. Fuller is nursing an ankle injury, but he has more than solidified his roster spot.

SAFETIES (4)

The Bears continue to use McCray and Mundy in the starting lineup, and Conte will need to make up some ground to unseat one of them. The club sporadically uses Adrian Wilson on the first team, and he hasn't yet shown enough to stick. The last two preseason games will be huge for Wilson.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears eliminated Williams' main competition for jobs in the return game by releasing Weems. Tress Way has given O'Donnell a run for his money, but the Bears will likely opt for the draft pick O'Donnell.

Bears Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
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BOURBONAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • The Bears broke training camp Tuesday in cool, rainy conditions at Olivet Nazarene University, but the club plans to spend one more day on campus going through meetings and walk-throughs in preparation for Thursday’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It seems like we just got here, and now we’ve got one more day of walk-throughs and we’re moving back, 48 hours until game time,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “It was a very good camp. I told them after practice I thought we did a great job of focusing when we need to focus on our work. I think you saw that, for those of you who have been here every day.”
  • The Bears held out Chris Williams (hamstring), Eben Britton (hamstring), Jordan Mills (foot), Marquess Wilson (collarbone), Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and Dante Rosario (calf). Charles Tillman and Jeremiah Ratliff were given the day off to rest.
  • Since returning from a strained quadriceps, veteran cornerback Tim Jennings has worked exclusively at the nickel corner spot. Prior to the injury, Jennings had been working outside opposite Tillman when the Bears played their base defense, before kicking inside when the team ran nickel. Now Jennings is taking reps solely as the nickel.
  • Marisa Buchheit, otherwise known as Miss Illinois 2014, visited the sideline at camp and took pictures with several spectators, and even some with members of the media.
  • Safety Chris Conte slipped while dropping into coverage, allowing room for the offense to hit a pass down the seam. Immediately after the play, several in the crowd began to continuously heckle and ridicule the safety. One teammate stood up and screamed “shut up” to the spectators.
  • Obviously, Conte’s struggles in 2013 are well documented. But he certainly wasn’t deserving of the ruthless ridicule, especially considering several players slipped on the wet grass during Tuesday’s workout.
  • On the subject of Conte, it’s still unknown whether he’ll play Thursday against the Jaguars.

“I’m gonna leave that up to the trainers. I’m hoping he can [play], but I can’t say that right now,” Trestman said. “We’ll wait and see.”
  • Conte came off the club’s physically unable to perform list on Sunday and has practiced every day since.
  • At the conclusion of the final workout of training camp, team officials wheeled the bicycles ridden around campus by the players and coaches onto the field to give away to some of the kids in attendance. The Bears have done this for the past several years.
  • Tight end Martellus Bennett spent several minutes after practice playing catch with a young boy visiting camp. After they played catch, the boy walked off the field carrying Bennett’s helmet.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Lovie Smith finished 10-6 in his final season with the Chicago Bears before being fired. Marc Trestman comes in and leads the Bears to an 8-8 record in 2013. Yet expectations soar here on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University, where crowds for training camp practices routinely swell to 10,000.

It’s easy to see why. For a fan base accustomed to hard-nosed defense and shaky-at-best offense, Trestman flipped the script in 2013, taking Chicago’s attack to new heights with a major assist from general manager Phil Emery’s shrewd personnel moves.

The Bears broke record after record on offense last season, and the defense stumbled to historic lows.

If Trestman and Emery could basically work a miracle on offense in just one season, why can’t they do it on the other side of the ball in 2014?

“[I] feel very good about the competitive depth and the fights for positions that we're going to have,” Emery said. “Out of the three camps, I would say this camp has the best competitive level among the roster from 1 to 90.”

Emery achieved that by loading up on defenders: acquiring a mix of players poised to hit the sweet spot of their careers in Lamarr Houston and Willie YoungJared Allen, and drafting potential stars such as first-round pick Kyle Fuller. The Bears bolstered those moves with an overhaul of the scheme and additions to the defensive coaching staff.

“We started [with], ‘What could we do to get this team better?’” Trestman said. “I sat down with Phil [Emery], and we began to lay out a road map together on how we were going to rebuild this football team, and here we are at a stage where I don’t think there’s a player in our meeting room who doesn’t feel like there’s hope and high expectations. Now, it’s time to go to work.”

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastJay Cutler is more comfortable in coach Marc Trestman's system, and all of his offensive weapons are healthy and ready to go.
THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

1. Jay Cutler’s grasp of the offense is firmer in Year 2 of Trestman’s system, and his performance this year at camp is significantly different from in 2013. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said Cutler is his own problem solver and is making on-field adjustments so instinctively that he doesn’t need guidance from the staff. In his first camp under Trestman, Cutler misfired routinely, and there were concerns about whether he’d be effective in the regular season. After one particularly bad session in 2013, Trestman gathered Cutler and the other quarterbacks in the middle of the field in what could be described as a turning point. That’s not happening this year at camp as Cutler has become a bona fide field general.

2. Brandon Marshall is Brandon Marshall. He wasn’t at camp in 2013. He was coming off hip surgery that hindered his season preparation. Fully healthy now with an offseason to condition, Marshall is ready to go -- and with full comprehension of the offensive system. Throw in Alshon Jeffery’s ascension and you have the makings of something lethal on offense. The duo has certainly looked that way at camp as both routinely make so many eye-popping plays that Cutler could almost throw it up blindly and one of them would come down with the ball.

3. There’s a nastiness on defense and intense focus reminiscent of the units put on the field in Smith’s heyday. Practicing against one of the best offenses in the league, the defense should be losing more than it does at training camp. But this group routinely bests the offense, with dominating play by the front seven as a hallmark. Chalk it up to a combination of personnel additions and a culture shift brought about by an overhaul of the scheme and the acquisition of no-nonsense, get-in-your-face coaches such as Paul Pasqualoni, Reggie Herring and Clint Hurtt.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mundy
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Bears brought Ryan Mundy in to compete at safety, but the position, at least in camp, continues to look shaky.
THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. The defensive line makes plays at training camp. The corners and linebackers make plays. But you rarely see the safeties making an impact. That could be a result of a lack of chemistry because, with both spots up for grabs, the Bears are using several combinations at the position involving players such as Ryan Mundy, rookie Brock Vereen, Danny McCray, Adrian Wilson and M.D. Jennings. Horrid play at this position in 2013 contributed significantly to the defense’s demise, and we haven’t seen many indications at camp that the Bears will turn that around in 2014.

2. Protecting Cutler could become an issue if some of the injuries suffered by the team's offensive linemen linger. Guard Kyle Long (ankle) and tackle Jordan Mills (foot) missed the preseason opener, and the latter was seen wearing a walking boot when the club returned to training camp after that game. Reserve center Brian de la Puente is expected to miss time to a knee injury, and reserve guard/tackle Eben Britton still hasn’t returned from a strained hamstring suffered earlier at camp.

3. Cutler hasn’t played an entire 16-game season since 2009. So naturally, you’d think at some point in 2014 the Bears will have to turn to the backup quarterback. The problem is the candidates vying for the No. 2 job -- Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen -- have done little to inspire confidence the way Josh McCown did last year at training camp. For the most part, Palmer and Clausen have been merely average at camp, misfiring on occasion and making mistakes typical of players acclimating themselves to a scheme. The duo needs to pick it up or the Bears could wind up looking outside the current roster for a suitable No. 2.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Chris Conte says he’s the best athlete in Chicago’s secondary. He needs to prove it, which he'll finally have a chance to do now that he's off the physically unable to perform list. Conte certainly possesses the athleticism to be a playmaker on the back end, provided he regains his confidence. But time is running out for Conte to make a real push for one of the two open jobs at safety. What Conte has going for him right now is that none of the safeties vying for the starting jobs is making plays at camp.
  • The Bears hired martial arts expert Joe Kim to teach the defensive linemen hand fighting techniques as part of the scheme overhaul that requires the front four players to be technicians with their hands. It’ll be interesting to see how the results manifest themselves on the field. Every day after practice at camp, several defensive linemen -- and even some defensive backs -- work intricate hand fighting moves with Kim for several minutes. The players say the moves become almost natural once routinely put into practice on the field. We’ll see whether Kim’s assistance plays a role in the front four anchoring a run defense that finished last in 2013.
  • Zach Miller and Matthew Mulligan are pushing Dante Rosario hard for the No. 2 job at tight end. Miller is more of a move tight end, and Mulligan is a classic in-line blocker who shows some impressive skills as a receiver. The two have received extra reps because of Martellus Bennett's suspension.

Wake-up call: Final practice at ONU

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
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Every day of Chicago Bears training camp, we'll have a wake-up call that previews the day ahead.

9 a.m. CT -- Bears practice at Olivet Nazarene University (open to the public).

Approximately 11:30 a.m. CT -- Marc Trestman, quarterback Jay Cutler, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, and select players will be available to the media at the end of practice.

This marks the final practice in Bourbonnais, Illinois, for the 2014 season. The Bears have a closed walk-through on Wednesday before busing up to Chicago to prepare for Thursday night’s preseason contest versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. A sincere thank you to all the fans and business owners in the Bourbonnais/Bradley region that helped make the past three weeks so enjoyable.

Among the story lines we'll be following:
" Cutler’s thoughts on the state of the offense heading into the Jacksonville game.
" Injury update on right tackle Jordan Mills (foot).
" Trestman sums up the summer in Bourbonnais.

Khaseem Greene no longer overthinking it

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Linebacker Khaseem Greene admittedly struggled to acclimate himself to the speed of the NFL game last season when a shoulder injury to Lance Briggs thrust the rookie into the starting lineup for four games.

Greene
But with a year of experience under his belt, Greene has quietly pieced together an impressive camp, and even spent Monday’s practice next to Jon Bostic on first-team nickel with Briggs taking a veteran’s day off.

“It’s slowed down a lot for me this year,” Greene said. “I’m seeing stuff quicker. I’m being able to just be a natural football player and just use my instincts to react. The game definitely has slowed down. It’s fun now. I’m not overthinking it.

“The older guys always say that it will slow down once you get a grasp of the playbook and learn how to start studying opponents. Guys say those skills come with age and from the experience of doing it. I feel like from last year to this year, I’ve made a big jump as far as the game slowing down. I’m now able to read and react.”

The jury is still out regarding the number of linebackers the Bears plan to keep on the 53-man roster. With Briggs and Bostic already locks to make the team, the remaining linebacker spots are between D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin, Jordan Senn, Christian Jones, Jerry Franklin and Greene.

It will be interesting to see which players are pushed out if the Bears decide to keep six at the position.

Williams and McClellin appear safe if they stay healthy, but the picture is cloudy after the top four.

Greene figures to be intriguing because he has value on special teams where he recorded two tackles last year, in addition to defense. Senn is a core special-teamer, but isn’t considered much of a contributor at linebacker. The 6-foot-3 Jones, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida State, had a rough game versus the Eagles, but performed well the first couple weeks of camp. Perhaps the potential upside of Jones proves too irresistible to resist if the rookie can be trusted on special teams. And Franklin, who also received increased reps in Monday's practice, played in 13 games over two seasons with the Bears, recording eight tackles.

Bears Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
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BOURBONAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Morning showers soaked the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University on Tuesday. So the Bears moved their session across the street to Ward Field, where the club could practice on FieldTurf. “The players handled the transition today and the weather. We moved some things around, went indoors for our walk-through, came out here for the first time in full pads, got a lot of work done, moved some guys around and we made it through the day,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We wanted to make sure we got this one in. We had Plan B and Plan C. Plan A worked pretty good and we got a lot of work done.” According to a school official, the same company that installed the surface inside the Walter Payton Center laid the FieldTurf at ONU, with the work being completed approximately three weeks ago. The school’s soccer teams used the field for the first time on Monday, and the Bears were the first football team to put the surface to use.
  • Zach Miller continues to state a strong case to win the job as the club’s No. 2 tight end. Miller put together another solid outing, catching every ball thrown his way during the various team periods.
  • Backup quarterback Jordan Palmer struggled during Tuesday’s workout, throwing a pair of interceptions to safety Chris Conte and defensive end Willie Young. The INT thrown to Young hit the defensive end squarely in the chest. Conte secured his pick in the end zone during a red-zone drill on a pass intended for Micheal Spurlock. Trestman declined to say whether Jimmy Clausen had overtaken Palmer on the depth chart. “I don’t think we’ve had any movement there at all,” Trestman said. “We’ll move people around. We’ll see how they play in different environments and we’ll make a decision when we have to.”
  • Trestman said “it’s too soon to talk about” whether Conte will play Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Conte came off the physically unable to perform list on Monday and has practiced just two days.
  • Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray continued to take snaps at safety with the starters. The club did work in Conte and Adrian Wilson with the starters as well.
  • Brandon Marshall spent time catching punts during special-teams periods, but don’t expect the club to use him in that capacity during games. “Brandon Marshall likes to get into some drills that maybe he shouldn’t be in,” special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said.
  • Non-participants for Tuesday’s session included Chris Williams (hamstring), Eben Britton (hamstring), Jordan Mills (foot), Brian De La Puente (knee), Marquess Wilson (collarbone), Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and Lance Briggs. Briggs isn’t injured. He was given a day off, which Trestman routinely does for veterans.
  • Keep an eye out for linebacker Jerry Franklin, who is taking snaps with the starters on some of the coverage and return units on special teams. He’s also been taking reps with the second team on defense.

DeCamillis expects special teams upgrade

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Aside from generating additional revenue for the league, preseason football exists to allow teams to work through their issues before games count for real in September.

While the Chicago Bears displayed a multitude of positive signs on both offense and defense in their preseason opener, the third phase, special teams, self-destructed on nearly every level imaginable -- blocked field goal attempt, muffed punt return, penalties, average punts, and a coverage breakdown that led to a Philadelphia Eagles 102-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Time is still on the Bears' side, but special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis feels a sense of urgency to turn things around in a hurry, starting with Thursday night's second preseason contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I took away from Friday night that we didn't play very well," DeCamillis said Monday. "We had a lot of miscues. What's disappointing is practice had been going well. We felt like it was a good training camp up to [that] point.

"We have to starting finding out the guys [who] are going to be playing for us on Sundays. There's no question about that. It's still an evaluation, but I think one of the things that wasn't as good at the start of [last] year was we didn't start out great. I think they came on after the fifth game and really started playing well. We need to see the guys that are going to play on Sundays. That's our goal moving forward, especially in that third preseason game. We have to see those guys and they have to start playing together as a unit."

DeCamillis cited the windy conditions at Soldier Field last week as a possible reason why punters Tress Way (37.5 yards per punt/37.5 net average) and Pat O'Donnell (43.5 yards per punt/33.5 net average) had only average performances against Philadelphia, although both players appeared to strike the ball well during Monday's practice at Ward Field.

One encouraging aspect to take away from the Eagles' game is that long snappers Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel were on the mark with their snaps. No decision has been made regarding which of the two the Bears will keep on the 53-man roster, but each offers something unique. Hartson is probably the better pure snapper, but Rempel is extremely athletic and seems to be capable of running downfield and covering a punt if necessary.

As for the return game, Eric Weems is in the drivers' seat, especially since speedster Chris Williams suffered a hamstring injury versus the Eagles. Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall did spend time Monday at practice fielding punts during special teams drills, but don't look for Marshall to be the new special teams secret weapon.

"Brandon Marshall sometimes likes to be in drills he shouldn't be in," DeCamillis said with a smile. "That's above my pay grade."
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Shea McClellin produced a lackluster debut at linebacker Friday during the Chicago Bears' preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the staff remains optimistic about his transition.

McClellin
A first-round pick drafted to play defensive end in 2012, McClellin moved to linebacker in the offseason after two pedestrian seasons as a pass-rusher. Against the Eagles, McClellin struggled in his first live outing at linebacker.

He missed tackles, struggled to shed blocks, and took bad pursuit angles. But those struggles weren’t exclusive to McClellin, though, as pretty much every player at the position experienced an up-and-down evening. McClellin just happens to fall under the microscope more often because of his first-round pedigree.

"It’s one of those things where he’s working at it," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "We see him do it at practice. He looks very instinctive at practice. We saw him make sudden movements and quick decisions in the game. I think he’s already doing that to a certain extent. We just have to get better."

Perhaps the most important component of that process is placing McClellin into as many live-game situations as possible so he can become more comfortable playing the position. Believe it or not, against Philadelphia, the Bears drew a difficult assignment given the first-team defense faced the Eagles’ potent no-huddle offense, which features plenty of zone-read concepts, in a situation in which the club hadn’t game-planned for the opposition.

Such a scenario makes for a chaotic opening few series, but once the defense settled in, McClellin started to improve, and he finished the game with two stops. The truth is the staff isn’t looking for McClellin to light it up immediately, because it knows firsthand the challenge the linebacker is facing in making the transition from defensive end.

What the staff hopes to see from McClellin are gradual steps toward becoming the starter on the strong side.

"The bottom line is that Shea has shown enough out here to believe he has linebacker instincts," linebackers coach Reggie Herring said. "I think he’s gonna be fine," Herring added. "He’s committed. He works hard. To be honest with you, there are times out there when he moves better than all of them. He changes directions, instincts, breaking on the ball, it’s a process. Y’all be patient. We’ll know after the first game, second game, where we’re at with him. Right now, he’s on schedule. He needs to play more games. He needs more at-bats, and I really believe that he’ll come and be a solid player for us. That’s my prediction."

Chicago Bears' projected roster

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
3:35
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Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Jimmy Clausen appears to have passed Jordan Palmer, but Bears coach Marc Trestman maintains the situation remains fluid. Fales' delivery looks a bit odd, but he knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and anticipates well. The game wasn't too big for Fales in his NFL debut.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Local favorite Jordan Lynch probably won't make the 53-man roster, but he's shown he's capable of playing in the NFL. Lynch is probably a practice squad candidate, but other teams could become interested if the former quarterback plays well in the preseason. The team needs to give Ford more reps in its next preseason game.

RECEIVERS (5)

Wilson is expected to miss some time in the regular season, which means players such as Weems, Morgan, and Josh Bellamy have a legitimate shot to win the No. 3 job. Chris Williams suffered a hamstring injury scoring a touchdown in the preseason opener, and it could wind up costing him a job.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Miller displayed the promise he showed as a rookie in Jacksonville back in 2009, catching six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles. Miller will likely unseat Dante Rosario, but the Bears could still wind up keeping the latter if they decide to go with three tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

The newcomers may not have a chance to crack the roster, because the offensive line is deep. Injuries to De La Puente, Mills and Britton have given some of the younger players a shot at more repetitions. But they still won't be able to beat out the proven players already on the roster.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Scott and Lane have come on strongly enough that they could actually become regular contributors in the defensive line rotation.

LINEBACKERS (6)

McClellin continues to struggle, but the coaching staff remains optimistic he'll develop into a starting-caliber strongside linebacker. This entire group struggled in the preseason opener and needs to improve moving forward, because linebacker is a featured position in this revamped scheme.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Isaiah Frey started to make plays at camp, but a hamstring has left him sidelined for the past several practices. Frey was the club's starting nickel corner last season, but may have trouble making the roster if he can't get back out on the field to show what he can do.

SAFETIES (4)

Tough decisions loom at this position. For the past several practices and the preseason opener, Mundy and McCray have worked with the starters. Craig Steltz and Conte are back off the physically unable to perform list. Veteran Adrian Wilson is beginning to look like a long shot to make the roster.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Williams has been solid as a receiver thus far at camp, but a hamstring injury could sink his chances if he doesn't return soon. Besides that, Weems is a proven commodity as a special-teamer.

Bears Camp Report: Day 12

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
8:10
PM ET
BOURBONAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Several players injured earlier in camp returned to action on Sunday, while safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz came off the physically unable to perform list. Cornerback Tim Jennings (quadriceps) practiced along with Kyle Long (ankle), after both missed the preseason opener Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive end Jared Allen also returned to practice after missing multiple days to be with family for the birth of his daughter. Conte took some repetitions with the starters, but spent the majority of the day working with the backups.
  • Obviously the time spent watching Charles Tillman is helping Sherrick McManis, who executed a perfect punch to knock the ball out of the arms of Micheal Spurlock after he made a catch on an intermediate pass.
  • Non-participants at the workout Sunday included right tackle Jordan Mills, who was wearing a walking boot on his right foot, along with Eben Britton (hamstring), Chris Williams (hamstring), Isaiah Frey (hamstring), and Brian De La Puente (knee).
  • Having returned from an indefinite suspension earlier in the day, tight end Martellus Bennett drew loud applause from the crowd after he caught a pass near the sideline. Bennett stayed after practice to run extra springs with Conte, Steltz, Jennings, Alshon Jeffery, Josh Bellamy, Matt Forte, Armanti Edwards and Josh Morgan. Bennett and rookie quarterback David Fales continued to run after everyone else had left the field.
  • Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray continue to work with the starters at safety. Both starting positions remain up for grabs.
  • The practice on Sunday attracted the largest crowd so far at camp. There were 18,500 in attendance at the workout on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University.
  • The Bears practiced in shorts, helmet and shoulder pads, and the workout was one of the most lively sessions of camp, which is somewhat impressive considering the team had just played in a preseason game two days prior.

Brian de la Puente suffers MCL sprain

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
3:46
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS -- Chicago Bears center/guard Brian de la Puente suffered a Grade 2 left MCL sprain in the preseason opener versus the Philadelphia Eagles and is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, the veteran offensive lineman told reporters on Sunday.

“My knee feels good,” de la Puente said. “It was a scary deal getting [my knee] rolled up on like that [against the Eagles], but the MRI was promising. The big stuff and the ACL were all right, so it’ll just be a couple of weeks getting it back strong.”

A former starting center for the New Orleans Saints, de la Puente has spent much of camp working at first-team right guard in place of Kyle Long, who’s been forced to miss time due to a viral infection and a sore ankle.

Meantime, starting right tackle Jordan Mills was spotted in a walking boot prior to Sunday’s practice. Mills injured his left foot earlier in the week and did not play against Philadelphia. It’s unclear when he is expected to return to the field. Veteran guard/tackle Eben Britton remains classified as day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

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