Training Camp Report: Day 1

QB Jay Cutler (AP: Nam Y. Huh)

Everyone in the Windy City is expecting big things from Jay Cutler this season, and he looked like the real deal on Day 1 at ONU. On the defensive side of things, two corners came up with INTs. Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
On a beautiful day in Bourbonnais that brought out what is believed to be a record crowd for training camp, Bears fans came to see new quarterback and franchise savior Jay Cutler throw the football – and he didn't disappoint. With his former college coach at Vanderbilt, Bobby Johnson, watching closely, Cutler completed 24 of 33 passes on the day, including 9 of 12 in 7-on-7 drills and 15 of 21 in 11-on-11. He connected on several deep balls to the delight of everyone in attendance, including a fade down the left sideline to Devin Hester and then a fly down the right sideline to Greg Olsen in the span of three plays. Backup Caleb Hanie was good if not great, putting together a 12-of-16 performance. Third stringer Brett Basanez didn't put a lot of mustard on the ball, but he should be commended for his 15-of-16 effort. ...

The biggest offseason addition on the defensive side of the ball, Pisa Tinoisamoa, got the majority of the snaps with the first unit at strong-side linebacker even though he wasn't promised the starting job when he signed as a free agent. He made a nice play in coverage despite being overmatched on a fade route against Olsen, cutting off the tight end's desired path down the left sideline. But Nick Roach apparently isn't going down without a fight, defending another fade for Olsen – this one down the right sideline – equally well. ...

With Matt Forte ready to explode in Year 2 after a sensational campaign as a rookie, even he understands how important a healthy Kevin Jones is to the overall success of the Chicago running game. Not only does everyone say Jones is in much better shape now than he was at this time last year, but he proved it on Day 1 with a strong showing from start to finish. He was lining up with the first unit quite a bit, and he caught several passes out of the backfield with relative ease. ...

After teasing the organization for the better part of three years with his incredible athleticism and enviable work ethic, Danieal Manning is expected to carry a heavy workload in his fourth season as a free safety, nickel back and kickoff returner. Coach Lovie Smith expressed confidence in the former second-round draft pick Thursday at his camp-opening press conference, but Manning tweaked a hamstring at some point during positional drills Friday and did not participate in either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11. Craig Steltz is supposed to be fighting Kevin Payne for playing time at strong safety but was forced to line up at free safety for the duration, and then Corey Graham got all the first- and second-team reps in the nickel package. ...


Harrison and Anderson leave the practice field.
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

There were a few nuggets of interest with regard to the depth chart, most notably the fact that Olsen now appears to be the starter at tight end ahead of Desmond Clark – both of them were used in two-tight end sets regularly, however. Second-year tight end Kellen Davis was watching a lot while backups Michael Gaines and Fontel Mines got plenty of reps, which could be a sign of bad things to come for the notoriously not-so-hard-working Davis. Along the offensive line, it was Josh Beekman opening with the first team at left guard, with free agent signee Frank Omiyale relegated to second-team duty. ...

While there weren't any interceptions during either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11, each backup signal caller got picked once on the afternoon during positional work – coincidence or not, both passes were in the direction of Devin Aromashodu. Nathan Vasher got the first one off Hanie on a deep out pattern near the left sideline, and Woodny Turenne got the other off Basanez on a similar route.

Injury Report
It's unclear how severe Manning's hamstring injury is at this point, but it's probably safe to say that he'll be out of action for a while and puts the secondary under the microscope even more. Charles Tillman was officially transferred to the physically unable to perform list before Friday's workout, while Marcus Harrison made his way to the non-football injury list. Tillman was nothing more than an observer wearing a bucket hat on the sideline, although Harrison did a little running on the side in an attempt to drop some weight and get in better playing shape.

Stud of the Day
Even though 24-of-33 isn't off the charts for a quarterback in a training camp practice, Cutler was the main spectacle for thousands of loyal onlookers and looked every bit the part of a difference maker under center. He threw the football with authority during positional drills, displaying his trademark downward-tilting flight pattern, and made a few highlight-worthy plays that further justify the level of excitement surrounding this franchise right now. So far, Cutler is the real deal.

Dud of the Day
Bears fans won't want to read this paragraph, especially since he did pick off a pass during positional work, but Vasher was abused by Brandon Rideau on a stop-and-go pattern immediately after that pick. Then in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, there were an awful lot of passes being completed in his general vicinity. On the other side of the field, youngster Zack Bowman had tighter coverage most of the day and looked like the better player.

Quote to Note
"No, I didn't. To be honest, no. I said it all last year. This was my first time really playing receiver. I never played – Pop Warner, high school, college – I never played receiver. So for me to come out and just, at the highest level, and play receiver was a big challenge." – WR Devin Hester when asked if he was ever truly comfortable playing receiver last year.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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