NFL Nation: Training camp

Bears Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
2:43
PM ET
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.

Bears Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
8/11/14
5:20
PM ET
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.
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."
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte came off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, and revealed he’s put together a list of his own in prepping to fight for one of the club’s two open spots at the position.

Conte practiced for the first time Sunday since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

“It feels good to be back playing football,” Conte said. “I’ve got a list. There’s a lot of things I want to do, and a lot of people I want to prove wrong. There’s a lot of goals I have, a lot of things that I’m looking forward to. But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Conrath
Conte
Conte took repetitions with the first-, second- and third-team defense, with most of his snaps coming with the No.2s. Conte missed the club’s entire offseason conditioning program after undergoing shoulder surgery which also kept him out of organized team activities and minicamps.

During that time and through the first 11 practices of training camp, players such as Danny McCray, rookie Brock Vereen, Adrian Wilson and Ryan Mundy may have leapfrogged Conte on the depth chart. But with the staff maintaining the position remains a wide open competition, Conte believes he’s returned in time to make a real push for a starting job.

“I’m gonna do everything I can to get back on the field and that’s all I know,” Conte said.

All he knew throughout the offseason, however, was intense criticism. Conte seemed to bear the brunt of the blame for the demise in 2013 of Chicago’s defense, which experienced a sharp decline from the previous season due to a combination of injuries and substandard play.

Conte ranked third on the defense with 95 tackles, and tied for second with three interceptions. However, he experienced well-documented issues on the field, including playing the wrong coverage on a late fourth quarter Randall Cobb touchdown in the Bears’ Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers that kept the team out of the postseason.

“We’ve seen him play at a high level. We’ve seen him do very good things," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "He’s got to do it consistently. He’s got to know where to get lined up and the things we’re doing defensively. Certainly the athleticism is there to compete with anybody on the back end.”

The play against Green Bay and Conte's subpar 2013 campaign led to “a lot of soul searching” in the offseason, he said, “a lot of time focusing on myself physically and mentally. It was a good time for me to get better in a lot of different areas. Hopefully I’m a better person and a better football player. I learned to keep people close to me that I care about and to always know the people that support me are the only people that really matter. I’m not even thinking about last season. I’m thinking about this year. I don’t even know what happened last season.”

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 8, 2014
8/08/14
12:00
PM ET
The Chicago Bears (0-0) and Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) open the preseason Friday night at Soldier Field.

1. Backup quarterbacks: Expect Bears coach Marc Trestman to pull the starters after a series or two, which means we won’t see much of quarterback Jay Cutler. We already know what he can do. The team needs to see whether Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Clausen can get it done if called upon. So they’ll receive the bulk of the snaps in this game. Trestman already has said that Palmer will receive first crack at the No. 2 job. So he’ll probably come into the game immediately after Trestman pulls the starters. Palmer has been solid, yet unspectacular, in camp. The same can be said about Clausen, who has performed a little better so far than Palmer. Trestman isn’t likely to name a bona fide No. 2 after this game, but the picture should clear up a bit.

2. Safety play: While abysmal play at safety in 2013 can be attributed at least in part by inconsistency along the defensive line, there should be no excuses now with all the retooling the club has done along the defensive front. Almost every day, the Bears have opened practice with different combinations at the position as both spots are up for grabs. Adrian Wilson, Danny McCray, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and rookie Brock Vereen have all taken first-team reps. The unofficial depth chart released by the team lists Vereen and Mundy as the starters. So there’s a good chance they’ll run with the No. 1 defense against the Eagles. But we should see all five of the aforementioned safeties extensively. Keep a close eye on Wilson, because there’s still a question as to whether he has anything left in the tank. The Bears hope Wilson pans out because he could add an intimidating presence on the back end that the club has lacked in recent years.

3. Front seven: The Bears spent the bulk of the offseason revamping a front seven that played a major role in the team ranking last in the NFL in 2013 against the run. The Bears made changes to the coaching staff, overhauled the scheme and added Jared Allen, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston in addition to drafting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Now we get a chance to see whether all the work will reap rewards. There’s a chance Allen won’t play -- he’s been excused to be with his family for the birth of his daughter. So Young and Trevor Scott will likely take the bulk of Allen’s reps. Perhaps the most significant change in the scheme involves the emphasis on defensive linemen using their hands properly to engage and shed blocks. That’s why the Bears brought in martial arts expert Joe Kim to teach the defensive line hand-fighting techniques. So from the first team all the way down to the on-the-bubble players, we should see significant improvement in that area, which in turn should bring optimism about how the group will perform in the regular season.

Bears Camp Report: Day 11

August, 6, 2014
8/06/14
5:29
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • The battle for the No. 2 tight end spot is intensifying with all the candidates receiving more repetitions because of Martellus Bennett’s indefinite suspension, and there’s a chance incumbent Dante Rosario could be unseated.

    Zach Miller and Matthew Mulligan appear to be making the strongest pushes for the spot, but Jeron Mastrud has impressed, too.

    “We have way more depth than we did last year,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “We have blockers. We have receivers. We have some combination guys at the F position, which is usually the second TE coming into the game.”

    Mulligan is perhaps the best blocker, while Miller seems to be the team’s best receiving tight end outside of Bennett. With the heat bearing down from the competition, Rosario has picked up his game, too.
  • The Bears started out practice wearing shoulder pads, but took them off at the conclusion of the first full team drill. With the club just two days from opening the preseason against Philadelphia, coach Marc Trestman wanted “to get a Friday tempo before a Sunday game.”

    “We kept the pads on early to get through individual, and we had a run-game emphasis early on,” he said. “We wanted the guys to be padded up in the shoulders just to protect themselves and be able to pick up the tempo, and then we took the pads off to lighten the load a little bit.”
  • Not to be confused with former Bear Sam Hurd, receiver Greg Herd, who was signed on Monday night has been assigned No. 81. The Bears signed Herd to add at receiver after Marquess Wilson suffered a fractured clavicle. The Bears waived linebacker Conor O’Neill in a corresponding roster move.
  • Guard Kyle Long (ankle), cornerback Isaiah Frey (hamstring), tackle Jordan Mills (foot), guard Eben Britton (hamstring), cornerback Tim Jennings (quadriceps) and safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) were held out of practice. Conte and Steltz remain on the physically unable to perform list. Defensive end Jared Allen has missed the past two workouts and is excused to handle a family matter.
  • Chris Williams spent time Wednesday taking snaps with the first-team offense as the slot receiver.
  • Trestman ran sprints at the conclusion of practice with Alshon Jeffery, Josh Bellamy and Herd.
  • Trestman doesn’t anticipate the starters receiving much playing time in the exhibition opener against the Eagles.

    “We haven’t sat down to talk about it,” he said. “I’m open minded to hear what our coaches have to say. Sometimes it’s [determined] more on a player-by-player basis than it is the group itself, and we’ll make a decision sometime before we play.”

Bears Camp Report: Day 9

August, 4, 2014
8/04/14
6:25
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • The safety dance continued on the back end on Monday as the Bears started practice with yet another combination of players at the position in Ryan Mundy and Adrian Wilson. The club’s last workout on Saturday at Soldier Field featured Wilson and Danny McCray as the starting safeties.In all, the Bears have used five players -- Mundy, Wilson, rookie Brock Vereen, McCray and M.D. Jennings -- as starting safeties. Both starting jobs remain up for grabs, and Wilson seems to be receiving more first-team reps as his familiarity with the system grows.“As he becomes more comfortable in the scheme he'll play faster and pick up his keys a little bit quicker, and I think we're starting to see that from him,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.
  • Cornerback Tim Jennings (quadriceps) and guard Eben Britton (hamstring) were held out of practice and defensive end Jared Allen was excused from the workout along with running back Shaun Draughn, who arrived just as the team was finishing up practice. Safeties Chris Conte (shoulder) and Craig Steltz (groin) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Lance Briggs suffered a bruised knee late in practice. It appeared Briggs banged knees with Matt Forte as he tried to cover the running back on a route out of the backfield. The injury isn’t believed to be serious.
  • Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long made his training camp debut on Saturday, but the staff held him out of full team drills. On Monday, Long participated in some team drills on a limited basis. The plan is to gradually work Long back into the mix.
  • Shea McClellin, Briggs and D.J. Williams are the first-team linebackers when the Bears play their base defense. Remember, McClellin is competing with second-year linebacker Jonathan Bostic for the starting job at strongside linebacker.
  • With the Bears set to open the preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, the defense started using the helmet transmitters to call in plays. Tucker called the plays into a transmitter to Briggs, who makes all of Chicago’s defensive calls.
  • Chicago’s practice was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. CT, but the team moved the practice up to 11 a.m. in anticipation of severe weather.
  • The Bears plan to start tapering off some of the work at practice for the players expected to see extensive playing time in the preseason opener against the Eagles. Although there’s no media availability on Thursday, the Bears plan to hold a walk-through on that day that isn’t open to the public.
  • The Bears hold practice again Tuesday at 9 a.m. CT.
Uncertainty clouds the backup quarterback position at Chicago Bears training camp with Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen competing for the No. 2 job. So it’s no surprise general manager Phil Emery expressed an interest Saturday in potentially bringing back Kyle Orton.

[+] EnlargeKyle Orton
Daniel Plassmann/USA TODAY SportsIf Kyle Orton is interested, the Bears are open to the idea of bringing back the veteran quarterback, who played for Chicago from 2005-08.
“I have great respect for Kyle,” Emery told Jeff Dickerson on ESPN Radio. “When I was in Kansas City, we brought him in. That’s the famous claim the Bears figured they would get [in 2011]. We claimed him. He came in. He started against the Bears; got hurt first or second play. At the time in Kansas City, we won the game. The next week, he starts against Green Bay, an undefeated Green Bay team [which] had the longest winning streak in football at that point. [He] beat them; beat them in Kansas City. Great leadership skills, guys really like playing for him, big arm. So the skill set is there. But as far as where he’s going in his career… that we don’t know.”

Orton was preparing to play his ninth season in the NFL when the Dallas Cowboys released him just before the start of training camp. The release came after Orton skipped Dallas’ offseason program while contemplating retirement.

Orton reportedly spent a few days in Dallas meeting with club officials, but the Cowboys ultimately decided to release him. During those meetings, Orton told team officials he would show up to training camp. But throughout the offseason, Orton reportedly had cut off all communication with Cowboys officials.

Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones said just before the quarterback’s release that Orton intended to play in 2014, but many around the league believe Orton will retire.

“[There’s] a lot of rumors in terms of him retiring,” Emery said. “I certainly know that if he had an interest in playing, that would be out in the league. We’re extremely excited about Jay [Cutler], and we’re extremely excited about the competition we have for the backups. If we see a player at quarterback or any other position that can help us, we’ll certainly take a look.”

Since losing Orton in the 2009 trade that brought Cutler to Chicago, the Bears have tried twice to bring him back. When Cutler suffered a broken thumb in 2011, the Bears put in a waiver claim for Orton, who was awarded to the Chiefs. At the time, Emery was Kansas City’s director of college scouting.

Emery tried to sign Orton during free agency in 2012, but the quarterback opted to play for the Cowboys.

“There’s an interest on our end on looking at any player that can help this team, and we continue to do that,” Emery said. “We want to keep looking at players that can really have a legitimate chance to make our team. If there’s a quarterback, a wideout, a defensive person -- a DB that could help us -- we're certainly gonna look at him.”

Orton certainly falls into that category, provided he still wants to play.

Bears Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
8/01/14
3:50
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • The Bears cut practice 30 minutes short, and perhaps that spurred extra effort from the players on Friday as it was easily the club’s most spirited workout of training camp. The defense outplayed the offense by far, and at the end of a tight red zone drill, Bears coach Marc Trestman made sure to congratulate the unit for its strong performance. The defense fit well against the run, but on passing downs the front four pressured Jay Cutler on numerous occasions, forcing him to throw the ball away multiple times. “Today in the tight red zone, the defense amped it up,” Trestman said. “We had some contested throws, knockdowns, some real good plays defensively.”
  • Veteran defensive end Trevor Scott hasn’t received much publicity throughout camp, but he’s proven deserving over the first several days of camp. In addition to size and physicality, Scott showcases a plethora of pass-rushing moves on a day-to-day basis that could make him a contributor to the rotation up front. One staffer called Scott “the real deal so far” at camp. A seventh-year veteran, Scott played four years in Oakland before joining the New England Patriots and later Tampa Bay. He’s logged 16.5 sacks over six NFL seasons.
  • One good way to get an idea of how the 53-man roster will shake out is to pay attention to special teams as this is the facet of the game that often determines some of the final spots. The first-team kickoff return unit on Friday consisted of Danny McCray, Jonathan Bostic, Jordan Senn, Khaseem Greene, Brock Vereen, Tony Fiammetta, Scott, Matthew Mulligan, Dante Rosario, Josh Bellamy and Eric Weems.
  • Some of the stars from inside drills pitting offensive linemen against defensive linemen in one-on-one matchups included David Bass, Nate Collins, Will Sutton, and Ego Ferguson. Despite Sutton’s reputation as a finesse rusher, he bull-rushed Ryan Groy to get into the backfield. Ferguson, meanwhile, appears to possess plenty of strength, but enhances it by rushing with solid leverage.
  • Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs broke up two Cutler passes during team drills. Briggs’ second breakup resulted in a McCray interception. The INT represented the first all training camp by a safety working with the first-team defense.
  • The Bears held out Charles Tillman and Alshon Jeffery from practice with Trestman calling their inactivity a “coach’s decision.” Chris Conte (shoulder), Craig Steltz (groin) and Kyle Long remain out. Long will return to the practice field Saturday at Soldier Field. Center Roberto Garza was also excused from practice for personal reasons.
  • Chicago holds its annual Family Fest workout Saturday at 6:45 p.m. CT at Soldier Field.

Bears Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
7/31/14
4:35
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Safety Adrian Wilson seems to be gaining a level of comfort in Chicago’s scheme, which in turn has resulted in the veteran playing somewhat faster. But don’t be fooled by Wilson’s seemingly average workout pace as some within the organization believe he’s “practicing like a veteran,” meaning he’s expending as little energy as possible just to make it through camp and into the preseason games. For Wilson, the exhibition games are where he’ll make his mark, and that’s when people within the organization expect the safety to go full bore. Considering he’s currently in a backup role, expect Wilson to receive significant snaps late into the games against mostly backups, and he’ll need to play well -- nearly dominate -- before the staff feels comfortable enough to put him into the mix for one of the starting jobs. The coaching staff hopes Wilson pans out because if he does, it gives the Bears an intimidating force on the back end they haven’t had in several years.
  • The Bears pumped in the music as usual for the individual portions of practice, but when the team simulated some live situations, staffers piped in crowd noise through the public address system. The extra noise didn’t seem to affect execution on either side of the ball.
  • Strangely, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte seemed to drop more passes in one day Thursday than they had throughout all of training camp. Jeffery and Forte each dropped two passes with the former making up for it by hauling in a long ball late in practice between two defenders. Chris Williams, a candidate to become the club’s primary punt returner and a backup receiver, muffed a punt and also dropped a pass.
  • Despite Marshall's drop, he made perhaps the catch of the day in a goal-line drill. With Demontre Hurst draped all over him, Marshall made a spinning one-handed grab for a touchdown. Marshall receives points for difficulty on this one as he caught the touchdown with his left hand.
  • Just before the start of practice, the Bears announced they signed offensive lineman Graham Pocic to a one-year contract and waived receiver Terrence Tolliver with an injury settlement. Pocic signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois.
  • Non-participants at practice Thursday included safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) along with guards Kyle Long and Eben Britton (hamstring). Long has been cleared to return to practice, but won’t be back in pads until the club’s night workout Saturday at Soldier Field. Britton wasn’t on the field with teammates as he spent all of the practice rehabilitating inside with athletic trainers.
  • Jermon Bushrod, Stephen Paea, Austen Lane, and Jordan Mills were the stars of one-on-one drills featuring offensive linemen against defensive linemen. Paea made the most impressive move of the day, using a swim move to blow past Roberto Garza in just one step.
  • The Bears practice again Friday at 9 a.m. CST.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Athletic trainers carted off backup Chicago Bears guard Eben Britton after the veteran suffered a left hamstring injury during a one-on-one drill against defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff.

Britton said the injury isn’t serious, that he’s “fine,” and club officials expect the veteran to be on a day-to-day timeframe for recovery.

Britton sustained the injury battling Ratliff during a pass-rushing drill in which the defensive tackle appeared to win. As Ratliff rushed past Britton, the veteran grabbed his left hamstring. After spending a few plays watching the drill, Britton walked over to the athletic trainers’ station to be checked.

Minutes later, the athletic trainers carted off Britton.

A sixth-year veteran, Britton played in 13 games for the Bears last season, starting in four of those as a sixth eligible lineman. Britton’s production last season prompted the Bears to sign him in April to a one-year contract.

Prior to joining the Bears, Britton started 30 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-12, making 23 starts at right tackle and seven more at left guard.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears announced Wednesday that Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long has been cleared to return to practice, after starting training camp on the non-football injury list due to a viral infection.

Long
The club plans to spend the next few days putting Long through conditioning work, and the expectation is he’ll join teammates Saturday when the Bears conduct a night practice at Soldier Field.

“We’re just going to continue to condition him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s got to get his legs back underneath him. I think by Saturday night you’ll see him in pads. We’ll work him into individual [drills] in pads on Saturday night. That would be the hope and we’ll take it from [there]. If we feel he’s got his feet underneath him and his pads are where they should be, we’ll see where Saturday night goes. That would be the plan, but we’re going to take one day at a time.”

Long declined to speak with reporters Wednesday, as he walked off the field at the conclusion of practice.

Long met with a physician on Monday, and the club held him out of practice again on Wednesday. After the workout Wednesday, Long was still listed on the team’s non-football injury list.

In all, Long has been held out of all five training camp practices. During the period of inactivity, Long has “done minimal things” to stay in shape, Trestman said.

“He hasn’t put pads on for quite some time, and hasn’t played football for quite some time, even through the OTAs and now the time away of the first five days of practices,” Trestman said. “We’ve been here six or seven days learning and doing those kinds of things, and he’s been away some of that time. That all goes into the mix and we’re trying to do the right thing. We’ll do what the trainers and doctors tell us to do. He’ll be back in meetings and he’ll get back on his feet and we’ll get him going.”

 
He’s taken part in just four practices at training camp, but in that short sliver of time, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler shows evidence he’s poised to take a major step in Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s offense.

“It’s obvious in practice that Jay is taking more and more control by the day,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “Not that he didn’t before; he did. But with his comfort level with all the things we’re trying to get done, he’s able to solve some of his own problems on the field, even when he didn’t maybe have that answer taught to him yet. It’s really helped that Jay has studied really hard all offseason. He’s worked on technique. He’s been one of the hardest-working guys on the team this offseason.”

Cutler
In other words, Cutler isn’t resting on what the offense accomplished in 2013.

You know the numbers. The Bears set records last season in net yardage (6,109 yards), passing yards (4,281), completion percentage (64.4), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (96.9) in addition to achieving a franchise-best 344 first downs while scoring the second-most points in franchise history (445).

Cutler’s 63.1 completion percentage ranked second in franchise history, as he churned out a career-best passer rating of 89.2.

Cutler has long held a reputation for surliness, and the outside perception is he’s aloof with teammates. Yet within the organization, the quarterback didn’t display such qualities, according to the coaches. Actually, he’s quite the opposite, they say.

“I didn’t know him before last year, and to be honest with you, since I’ve been around him I’ve been nothing but impressed,” quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said. “I think he’s got a real sincere attitude about this organization, his teammates, the coaching staff and what we’re trying to get done. He believes in it.

“He does things that will never, ever get reported, and you just say, ‘Wow, that’s unselfish.' I admire that in him.”

What went largely unreported during last year’s camp was Cutler’s penchant for gathering the players late at night to go through walkthroughs of what the offense might be working on the next day.

Evidence of Cutler’s growth also manifested itself Saturday on the field after the club’s second workout of camp. Earlier that day, Cutler and tight end Martellus Bennett squandered what should have been a touchdown in the red zone when linebacker Jonathan Bostic broke up the quarterback’s pass.

As the rest of the team walked off the field after practice, Cutler walked over to an adjacent field with Bennett to talk about ways they could be more effective in the red zone. The conversation wasn’t combative, and the duo walked away smiling, having gained a better understanding of how to capitalize on the next red-zone opportunity.

“In certain situations [Bennett is] really hard to cover,” Cutler later explained. “He’s such a big guy that even some of the intermediate stuff over the middle, he’s able to bring guys and get separation. He played basketball, so he knows how to high point the ball down in the red zone. We’ve just got to keep throwing different stuff at him and incorporating him in different ways.”

Cutler hasn’t been perfect, nor has anyone else on the offense thus far at camp. But everyone recognizes the deficiencies, and Cutler seems to be taking the lead in cleaning up things.

Cutler admitted “there’s been some sloppy stuff out there,” thus far at camp, which he said “is to be expected.”

That’s part of the reason Cutler is sometimes taking repetitions with the second-team offense. The staff wants Cutler to take as many snaps as possible to strengthen his command of the offense, while also working with different personnel that might become more involved in the scheme if there’s an injury to a key contributor.

Trestman agreed with Kromer's assessment that Cutler is more of a problem-solver in Year 2 of the offense.

“It happens both in the protection game because of his acumen. He’s seein' it all. He’s also doing it within the framework of our passing game as well,” Trestman said. “He’s able to get guys in the right position, change routes quickly and get the best and most out of each and every play. That’s kind of where he is. He’s kind of fixing it at the line of scrimmage when he needs to get that done.”

Cavanaugh called Cutler “a great example” for the offense.

“He just wants to be the best he can be every day, and he wants to make the people around him better, too,” Cavanaugh said. “That’ what you want in your leader. You want a guy who can make people around him better and be an example for them and make them better.”

Bears Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
7/26/14
4:25
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp.

" Day 1 of training camp Friday brought about a spirited workout that included a minor shoving match between Sherrick McManis and Eric Weems. On Saturday, the Bears experienced a full-blown dust-up that appeared to involve defensive end Lamarr Houston and right tackle Jordan Mills initially, and escalated to include defensive end Willie Young and Kyle Long, who still isn’t practicing because of a viral infection.

At first, Bears coach Marc Trestman joked “we’ve got to start charging” for people to watch, but took a more serious tone in pondering the implications such an event could have on the team. Trestman believes in simulating game situations whenever possible. So “if we’re practicing like it’s a game, we would have lost both players today,” he said.

Trestman also called the skirmishes “a disciplinary issue” in addition to “a major safety issue.” Interestingly, Mills and Houston were involved back in June in a similar incident during organized team activities.

" What should have been a touchdown to Martellus Bennett from Jay Cutler during a red-zone drill instead became a breakup by linebacker Jonathan Bostic.Bennett and Cutler refused to let it go. So after practice, the two stood in the end zone discussing ways they could be more effective in the red zone as the rest of the team walked off the field.

Bennett explained to ESPN.com that Cutler thought he fired the pass in the end zone high enough to get it past the outstretched arms of Bostic, and into the tight end’s hands. But at 6-foot-6, Bennett said, “What might be a high pass for someone else is different than my high,” meaning his catch radius is wider than most of the team’s targets.

“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,” Bennett said.

Bennett hopes the 10 minutes spent in the end zone after practice Saturday will ensure touchdowns instead of incompletions once the season starts.

" The Bears held out Tim Jennings (quadriceps) from Saturday’s practice, and defensive end Willie Young left near the end of the workout after experiencing soreness in a quadriceps. Both are day to day. Other non-participants included safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) along with Long (viral infection).

" Despite repetitions typically being scarce for rookies, sixth-round pick David Fales received an extended period of snaps to run the offense during a team session. Although his delivery appears somewhat unconventional, it’s clear the quarterback knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and doesn’t take risks. Fales was accurate on the majority of his throws, but most of his passes traveled fewer than 10 yards.

" Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is splitting the reps between Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen as the two compete for the No. 2 job behind Cutler. Clausen played most of the snaps with the second-team offense during the first half of practice, and the quarterback delivered several strikes while making virtually no mistakes. Palmer, meanwhile, struggled with accuracy working with the third team and threw an interception to linebacker Khaseem Greene. Palmer worked with the second team later in practice and improved significantly.“

"You shouldn’t draw any conclusions by who the guy [is] that goes in there after Jay’s in there,” Trestman said. “We’re just moving people around and giving each guy a chance to work with different people and different centers and so forth.”

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