Bears wide receivers and tight ends have all mentioned that Jay Cutler's fastball has a lot more zip on it than what they're accustomed to, but none of them believe it will be a difficult adjustment.
They might, however, spend more time catching "passes" out of the Jugs machine to prepare them for Cutler's bullets.
"I think they'll get out here and get in on it, no question about it," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said, "and they'll turn it up a couple notches, too, if they're smart."
Turner finally has a franchise quarterback directing his West Coast offense. With that comes more pressure to design a high-powered attack, but that's OK with Turner.
"I don't know if there is [more pressure], but if there, is I'll take it," Turner said. "I'll take a player like this anytime. I've been around some really good quarterbacks, and the last couple we've had I think were really good players, but I've never been around an arm like this."
But just because the Bears have a quarterback capable of launching long-range missiles with precision doesn't mean they won't continue to, as head coach Lovie Smith is fond of saying, "get off the bus running the ball."
Even Cutler realizes that.
"We're going to run the ball," he said. "I think I've learned the hard way you have to run the ball, and you have to stop the run to get anywhere in this league and to make the playoffs and make a push for the Super Bowl. So that's not going to change.
"Especially here in December. With the wind and the weather, you're going to have to be able to grind out those four- and five-yard runs and get yourself into manageable positions. We're going to do that, but with the offensive weapons we've got, and with Ron calling them, I think we're going to have some fun out there, too."
Cutler has as good of an arm as Turner has ever seen coaching the quarterback position.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
NEWS AND NOTES
When tight end Greg Olsen was asked about his spectacular one-handed catch during the Bears' first OTA practice, all he could do was criticize himself for dropping a fastball from Cutler earlier in the day.
"There is really no excuse," Olsen said. "Once you get adjusted, it's really all the same pretty much. You just have to get your eyes around that much faster and just expect it."
After an impressive rookie season in which he caught 39 passes for 391 yards, Olsen was second on the Bears last season with 54 catches and 574 receiving yards. He led the team with five TD catches. The 6-5, 255-pounder was anticipating another increase in production this season even before the Bears acquired Cutler.
"I was poised to have a good season in the first place," Olsen said, "but now with the addition of him, I know he feels comfortable with tight ends and utilizing them. I'm expecting to do good things and have a good year." …
Cornerback Zack Bowman was switched to safety earlier in the offseason, but he was back at corner as the Bears' OTAs kicked off, starting at on the left side in place of Charles Tillman, who is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
Nathan Vasher was the starter on the right side, but he will have to prove he deserves to remain there after two disappointing and injury-riddled seasons. He could be pushed by rookie fourth-rounder D.J. Moore.
"I'm coming out every day and working," Vasher said. "We'll just see what happens." …
Cutler's arrival has been heralded as the second coming or, more accurately in Chicago, the first coming of a franchise quarterback. But Cutler has been careful not to overstep his bounds in the early going. He was quick to answer when asked if the Bears were his team.
"No," he said. "Not yet. This is a defensive kind of run team with Brian [Urlacher] and
Lance [Briggs] and some of those guys, and Olin [Kreutz] offensively. That's going to come in time. You can't rush things like that. You've got to kind of take things in stride and get guys to trust you and have confidence in you, and hopefully by Game 1 they're all behind me." …
The Bears' eighth straight summer training camp at Bourbonnais' Olivet Nazarene University begins with a 3 p.m. practice on Friday, July 31. Camp concludes following an 11 a.m. practice on Aug. 21.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"The locker room is full of great guys, and they've welcomed me with open arms, so it's been nice." – QB Jay Cutler on getting used to his new Bears teammates.
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