Bears

Bears OL strong in first 2015 time in pads

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Bears OL strong in first 2015 time in pads

BOURBONNAIS – Saturday marked the first day the Bears donned pad in 2015 and the occasion belonged to the linemen, finally able to do some actual hitting of consequence.

Besides the usual one-on-one pass-protection drill, the John Fox group has installed a period of one-on-one run blocking, a session that demands strength in holding a point vs. a force determined to lock onto the defensive player.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod was held out of practice, coaches’ decision, and right guard Kyle Long, who again produced some tense moments, was pulled from practice with a shoulder bruise. Charles Leno got extended work in Bushrod’s spot with the No. 1 offense, while Vladimir Ducasse filled in for Long, who rolled up to the dining hall for lunch riding a Big Wheel and wearing an ice bag on his shoulder.

“The effort was really good,” Fox said. “It's always sloppy the first day because they haven't done it for a whole year, but the effort was good, the intent was good, and we'll get a little bit better on the technique as we go.”

[MORE BEARS: Two days, zero turnovers for Bears’ 'O']

The day saw the offensive commit its first turnover in the three camp practices and struggle at times running the football against a strong front-seven. But the offense had its moments:

Offensive line

Matt Slauson, who missed much of last season with a chest injury, was the dominant offensive lineman of the day. Just ask Jeremiah Ratliff. The veteran defensive tackle delivered a huge swinging right-arm club move on his first rep against Slauson. Ratliff might just as well have hit a building; Slauson did not move even a little and earned a well-done from Ratliff after the rep.

Coaches had the two go again. Not good for Ratliff, who came across Slauson’s front with a swim move and was promptly driven back on the defensive side of the football. Defensive end Ego Ferguson also was dominated by Slauson, consistently one of the Bears’ highest-graded offensive linemen before his ’14 chest injury.

Long, taking two snaps at right tackle in the drill, was matched up twice against outside rush linebacker Sam Acho. Not good for Acho, who took some verbal exception to Long’s sustained blocking after winning the rep, then Long followed that with bringing Acho to a complete stop on an outside rush. Acho was not alone having trouble with Long; defensive end Jarvis Jenkins was similarly stood up cold on a rush.

Rookie center Hroniss Grasu found that there are indeed levels of nose tackle at the NFL level. Grasu completely locked up fellow rookie Eddie Goldman on one pass-rush attempt, but a moment later barely made contact with Ratliff when the latter went by him with an NFL-grade swim counter move.

[MORE BEARS: Bears free of contract disruptions as camp heats up]

Acho also was unable to use his speed with any effect against right tackle Jordan Mills. But Mills struggled on the edge against rush linebacker Pernell McPhee in two matchups. Leno also did not fare as well against McPhee, who bull-rushed Leno backwards several steps before losing his footing. Guard Ryan Groy gave a good accounting of himself, matching power with power against Goldman. Goldman also was on the losing end of a matchup against veteran center Will Montgomery.

Quarterback

Jay Cutler had a minor low point when he overthrew a streaking Alshon Jeffery, who was 20 yards behind the nearest defender after the play developed to perfection. “I told him it looked like I threw it,” Fox said, smiling. “And that's not a compliment." Cutler continued his turnover-free streak to three days. But other than the overthrow, Cutler’s connections with Jeffery have been smooth and recalling Cutler throws with Brandon Marshall.

Jimmy Clausen hooked up with Eddie Royal for a deep completion on a seam route after connecting with Josh Bellamy earlier for a highlight touchdown catch. Shane Carden is having the expected rookie struggles, not helped on Saturday by one bad drop and a receiver losing the football for the camp’s first turnover.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Receivers

The streak had to end eventually and it fell to rookie wideout Ify Umodu from Northern Arizona to commit the first turnover. Umodu caught a Carden pass across the middle but was stripped of the ball by cornerback Terrance Mitchell and the defense recovered. Bellamy came down with the ball on a tumbling catch in the end zone off a Clausen pass against excellent coverage by rookie cornerback Qumain Black from East Central.

Jeffery is running precise routes and getting separation to go along with his size and strength advantages over most defensive backs. Jeffery has worked open in all areas of the secondary and his comfort level with Cutler is particularly evident.

Running backs

The defense bottled up the majority of rush attempts on the first day in full pads. Matt Forte struggled to find space and get turned downfield. Ka’Deem Carey flashed his best burst of camp so far, getting to and through the line for one first-down pickup.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed.