BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — No one is keeping score just yet but unofficial observations report two straight days of practice without a Bears quarterback throwing an interception or receiver or running back losing a fumble.
It’s training camp, no one is in pads, but after Jay Cutler led the NFL in turnovers last season, any day without turnovers is a day with offensive sunshine in Chicago.
Jay Cutler may not have Brandon Marshall any longer but he is taking his connections with Alshon Jeffery to a next level, enhanced by Eddie Royal filling in while No. 1 pick Kevin White recovers from a shin injury. Cutler shook off strong pressure from a number of rushers (Pernell McPhee, David Bass, Cornelius Washington) to make throws that stretched the defense. Cutler’s deep throw along the right sideline to Royal was the highlight completion of Thursday’s session… .
Jimmy Clausen threw with more consistent accuracy than Thursday. For the second straight day he connected with Marc Mariani with a precise throw out of reach from coverage. Clausen was victimized by an excellent pass deflection by cornerback Al Louis-Jean and cornerback Tracy Porter did have a near-pick.
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Matt Forte emphasized speed training in his offseason regimen and while he is approaching age 30 (Dec. 10), he is doing anything but slowing down. Forte turned the left side of his line, then left cornerback Alan Ball grasping air with a double-move and a 20-yard gain.
“My 40-time coming out of college was 4.5-something and I ended up running in the low 4.4s, so I used to go back a lot of times in the postseason every year,” Forte said. “I missed last year, I didn’t go, and I felt the effects of my burst going through the holes and stuff like that or just accelerating after catching the ball. So I went back and did that type of training and got a lot better. I got a benefit out of it.”
Rookie Jeremy Langford ran a precise underneath route out of the backfield but Jimmy Clausen’s pass was a little too far behind him to make the catch… .
Martellus Bennett made several strong catches against tight coverage, one on cornerback Alan Ball and one despite a fast close and interception-try by cornerback Sherrick McManis. Bennett also has shown particular quickness getting into his blocks, beginning in drill sessions and carrying over into team running plays. “Last year’s offense we weren’t asked to drive block,” Bennett said. “It was a lot of zone and position blocking. So it’s just a different technique thing that we had to learn. I come from a background where it’s always been power, smash-mouth football—early in my Cowboys days and even while I was with the Giants—that’s just the style of blocking that I learned. The last two seasons transitioning to positioning and the scheme was totally different from what we were—we weren’t downhill; we were more of a shoot-the-gap type shotgun-type offense running”… .
Alshon Jeffery handled a laser throw from Cutler between good coverage by Ball and linebacker Christian Jones… . Eddie Royal drew the days biggest crowd roar and also some complements from the opposition, making a leaping catch against cornerback Tim Jennings for a 40-yard completion from Cutler. Safety Antrel Rolle came over to offer kudos, almost making Royal late back for the offense’s next play… .
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Left tackle Jermon Bushrod missed much of the offseason getting over a back issue but provided one of the day’s best blocking performances, handling McPhee one-on-one and standing the rush-linebacker up cold to protect Cutler’s blind side… . Charles Leno, earning complements from coaches through the offseason, delivered a strong effort against Sam Acho, handling the outside linebacker’s speed rush without help… .
Bears offensive lines have had difficulties against 3-4 defenses in the past, and run-blocking assignments appear to be still sorting out against a number of creative looks already being shown by the scheming of coordinator Vic Fangio.