One more week for the rookies
The Chicago Bears trotted out two rookies on the right side of the offensive line last week and the results were promising. Kyle Long was a rock at right guard, while Jordan Mills held his own on the right edge. Because of that, coach Marc Trestman said the pair of youngsters will again start this week against the Oakland Raiders.
“The right side of the line, we’ll keep it the same this week,” Trestman said today. “There were enough good things that happened that we feel like we want to give them another opportunity to go out and play a little bit more against the first group and see what they can do.
“They were athletic, they were physical. Jordan got to play against [Dwight] Freeney for a couple snaps and learned a lot in those first couple snaps. Just overall there was an upside in assignments, physicality and athleticism. We’re not ready to pass judgment yet overall. We’re just going to let this thing play itself out. But to me as straightforward as I can, it was a positive experience for our football team to have them out there. They kept their poise. They did a lot of good things. They made mistakes as well that we think they can improve on and we’ll see how it goes another week.”
Blanchard sans timetable
Third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard broke his finger against the San Diego Chargers this week. He said he’s still not sure when he’ll return to action.
“I really don’t know yet,” Blanchard said after practice today. “I still have to see some doctors, still have to talk to our trainers and figure that stuff out.”
Because the team doesn’t know the severity of the injury, there is no plan of action for Blanchard at this point.
“We’ve got to see how this injury unfolds and how it relates to the roster,” said Trestman. “So we’re just giving that some time, but it’s a relevant question. We just are not in position to make that decision yet so we’re just going to see how this injury unfolds and what the length of it would be.”
With Blanchard out, the Bears brought in two veteran quarterbacks: Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards. The plan is to give Palmer an opportunity to earn the third-string quarterback gig, with Edwards also providing a challenge.
“In the first half this week we’ll play the first group and Jay [Cutler] should get the first half and maybe even into the third quarter. We’ll see how it goes,” Trestman said. “And Josh [McCown] will play the third quarter. I expect Jordan to play the fourth quarter. And then next week we plan on holding both Jay and Josh out and playing Jordan and Trent.
“The reason obviously why we got them both in is we worked them out, we liked them both. We’ll get them a chance to play and get on tape. I think they’ll be pretty familiar with the offense once they get out there and we’ll do the best we can. If something would happen to Jordan as the third, we still would have wanted to protect Josh, so that’s the reason why we’ve got two quarterbacks coming in.”
When asked if he’ll be keeping two or three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster this year, Trestman was noncommittal.
“I don’t know. It’s something I’ve got to think of quite frankly,” he said. “It’s been seven years out of the league. You’re always thinking three, to have somebody in the room because if somebody does go down, that person’s been in the room and he’s been in the meetings and he’s connected with the staff and with the other quarterbacks. So the thought would be to have three but the roster may dictate that we have to go in another direction and go only with two and we’ll see what happens as we move to cut-down dates.”
It’s a tough situation for Palmer, who will see a lot of reps the next two games, all in an offense for which he just today picked up the playbook.
“You have to think about each individual drive,” said Palmer. “I’m throwing to guys I don’t know, taking snaps from guys I don’t know, playing against guys I don’t know and in an offense I don’t really know. How do you find completions? It’s not about throwing touchdowns, it’s not about not throwing picks, it’s about finding completions, and that is literally it.
“Every guy who’s in there playing receiver is just looking for an opportunity to get the ball in his hands, so they’re very, very eager route runners. If you can get the ball in their hands quickly they usually make plays, and that’s going to be the goal this week.”
Bears not practicing today: LB D.J. Williams (calf), Patrick Mannelly (ribs), Henry Melton (concussion), Jonathan Scott (knee), Earl Bennett (concussion), Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring), Harvey Unga (ribs) and Corvey Irvin (unknown).
The Bears expect Williams, who has been out since the first week of training camp, back in the next couple of weeks.
“He is improving. I’m going to meet with him this week to just kind of spend some time with him and see where he is. But I think he feels like he’s getting better. I think we feel he’s getting better,” Trestman said. “We’re getting closer to the season and his conditioning now becomes an issue. We think that eventually he’ll be back certainly. We just don’t know when. It’s just an improving situation. He’s on schedule to come back over the time period that we expected him to. Of course he expected to come back a lot quicker and most players do of his caliber. So we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks and hopefully we’ll get him out here to practice in the next 12-14 days or better.”
With Williams out, the coaching staff has had an opportunity to see rookie Jon Bostic at MIKE with the starters.
“His confidence in knowing what we’re asking him to do is improving every day,” said coordinator Mel Tucker. “As he does that, he’ll play faster. Khaseem Greene, [Isaiah] Frey, all those guys, the more they learn, the more reps they get, they see themselves do it good, see themselves do it bad and they learn from that, move on and get better, and that’s how you build confidence.”
While Bostic has improved over the last two weeks, he admits he’s still a work in progress and that he’ll have to earn the starting spot over Williams.
“I kind of look at it as another opportunity to go out and compete,” Bostic said. “I'm nowhere near where I want to be and nowhere near where I need to be. And it's about being able to go out there and put this uniform on opening day and I still got a lot of work to do. I'm learning from D.J. Even though D.J. is out right now he's getting a lot of mental reps and he's coaching me up as well.”
Ford on teams
Running back Michael Ford returned a kick 100 yards against the Chargers. His play as a kick returner, as well as in the backfield, has gotten the attention of the coaching staff and could lead to spot on the final roster.
“It would be tough not to like what you saw in a Michael Ford,” said special team coordinator Joe DeCamillis. “He did a great job. On his long one, that wasn't one of the better-blocked returns that we had all night. He made a guy miss right in the hole. So that was a great run by him and he did a better job on coverage too. So he's making it tough. He's doing a good job of what we need to see from him, that's for sure.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.