Bears

Two days, zero turnovers for Bears’ 'O'

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Two days, zero turnovers for Bears’ 'O'

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.

[MORE: Bears defense settling in with impact plays early]

Quarterback

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.

[RELATED: Not a good day for high Bears draft choices]

Running back

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… .

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

Receiver

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… .

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Offensive line

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.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.