BOURBONNAIS — It is still intra-squad stuff and won’t matter or count until Sept. 11 when the Bears open in Houston against the Texans. But the final day of open practice in Bourbonnais (the Bears will practice once more on Wednesday before breaking camp) was marked by impact plays on both sides of the football.
And many of them were coming from players the Bears need to develop into foundation pillars of the franchise.
Like No. 1 draft selections' Leonard Floyd and Kevin White. Floyd appears on the team’s first depth chart as a No. 3 outside linebacker but has been elevated into a rotation with the No. 1 defense. Floyd highlighted Tuesday’s session with a shadowing of running back Jeremy Langford in short-red-zone work, then executing a perfect break on the ball to slap it away.
“I definitely believe I got a lot to improve on,” Floyd said. “I’ll just go out, play as hard as I can, look at film, what I’ve made mistakes on and try to correct them.”
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White, in the starting lineup since the outset, may be a de facto rookie by virtue of missing all last season with a stress fracture. But he has flashed continuously, finishing Tuesday by taking a short toss from quarterback Jay Cutler to the left edge, seeing it blocked and then circling all the way around to the right sideline and end zone, with Cutler in front for a faux lead block.
White also sold the entire defense with an end-zone route, with Marc Mariani taking Cutler’s pass all alone in the corner of the end zone. Fans and vendors were closer to Mariani than any of his defenders.
- The defense had its moments, with a strip and recovery of a fumble by Langford, followed later by an interception of quarterback Brian Hoyer by backup defensive back Taveze Calhoun.
The next obvious step is for those plays to happen in a game, in this case a preseason one, against the Denver Broncos Thursday night.
“The same transition from in practice, knowing what to do, how to do it, the key is to operate that under pressure,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “With everybody, there are guys that are gamers, sometimes guys don't show all their stuff in practice. I'm excited every year to watch that first game and watch guys how they perform under pressure."
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- Bears receivers remain on the injured list in concerning numbers, with Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) again coming out in pads for preliminary work but not practicing. Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, both in the concussion protocol, watched practice, as did No. 2 tight end Greg Scruggs, down with a bruised lung.
- Swing tackle Nick Becton was held out of practice with an elbow injury that is still being evaluated.
- Amini Silatolu was cleared medically and has quietly been working as a No. 2 guard, something the Bears now need badly after the knee injury to Hroniss Grasu forced coaches to move Ted Larsen in at starting center.