Training Camp Report: Day 12

QB Jay Cutler (Getty: Jonathan Daniel)

This is what people in the Windy City want to see in 2009. Ron Turner's offense perfers to throw the ball down the field, and QB Jay Cutler made a lot of big passing plays Tuesday that went for long distance. Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
All three Bears quarterbacks were accurate Tuesday under the lights of Ward Field, with the 9,100 or so in attendance being dazzled by big plays in the passing game from start to finish. Jay Cutler was 10-of-12 in 7-on-7 drills, highlighted by a pair of perfectly-thrown fly patterns down the right sideline – Earl Bennett got the first one past Corey Graham, Greg Olsen got the second over Pisa Tinoisamoa. Then in 11-on-11 action, Cutler put together a 14-of-19 performance, hitting Olsen with three straight completions in the two-minute drill and getting into the end zone on the last one. Caleb Hanie was 5-of-6 in 11-on-11 and started off 5-of-5 in 11-on-11, but he gave way to Brett Basanez for the rest of the night. Basanez was 14-of-18 overall, finding rookie Juaquin Iglesias deep down the left sideline past Woodny Turenne for a TD on the last play of the evening. ...

Bears fans will be happy to know that Tommie Harris took the first snap at the three-technique defensive tackle position in 11-on-11 work, although he still gave way to everyone from Israel Idonije to Matt Toeaina to rookie Jarron Gilbert at some point. Coach Lovie Smith repeated after practice that Harris simply needs some time to get back to full strength and there isn't any reason to be concerned about the three-time Pro Bowler for the long term, although it's evident he's not going to be an every-down player in 2009. We know Smith likes to rotate his defensive line liberally, so look for more of the same – perhaps more than ever – this season. ...

They're a long way from being Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but Bennett and Devin Hester both caught a ton of passes Tuesday and look like they deserve to be in the starting lineup for just about any team in the NFL. Cutler targeted Hester 11 times throughout the practice and connected with him seven times, and Hester also caught the D off guard by breaking a big gainer off a reverse after a toss sweep to Matt Forte. While Bennett was only targeted four times, he delivered four catches and was running every route on the tree effectively. ...

The coaching staff finally released the depth chart, and in typical Bears fashion, there are some nuggets that can be described as Lovie-esque. Tinoisamoa, Nick Roach and Jamar Williams are all listed as co-starters at strong-side linebacker, with rookie Marcus Freeman bringing up the rear as the fourth-team Sam. Mark Anderson is the co-starter at right and left defensive end, supposedly sharing starting duties with Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown, respectively. Behind starter Danieal Manning, Josh Bullocks and Craig Steltz are co-backups on the second team at free safety. And with Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman each nursing an injury, Graham and Trumaine McBride are co-starters at left corner – typical Lovie-speak. ...


Manning came up with an interception Tuesday.
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

For some reason, the coaching staff is going about the competition at left guard much differently than they are at the strong-side linebacker position. While Tinoisamoa and Roach have flip-flopped back and forth between the first and second unit most of training camp so far, Josh Beekman got every first-team rep until Saturday's Family Day practice at Soldier Field. But ever since then, it's been Frank Omiyale with the starters and getting every rep available – Smith mentioned after practice that keeping the offensive line cohesive is key and the reason why he does it that way. ...

Manning was simply all over the field defensively Tuesday, coming up with the lone interception of the workout when he stepped in front of a pass down the middle from Cutler to Hester – Manning likely would have scored on the play. He was also credited with a pair of forced fumbles, the first after Desmond Clark reeled in a curl and the second on Olsen following a connection on a crossing pattern. Perhaps most importantly, with Manning back on the field, Kevin Payne was able to get most of his work where he rightfully belongs at strong safety.

Injury Report
Look for the Fontel Mines experience to be over and done with once and for all, as the tight end tore his ACL in practice Monday and will likely get an injury settlement from the organization. A pair of young defensive ends fighting for their future in Chicago, Ervin Baldwin and Joe Clermond, are shelved for the time being, Baldwin with a bad elbow and Clermond with a bum shoulder. Tillman, Bowman, Williams and Patrick Mannelly sat out once again.

Stud of the Day
It's tempting to give the honor to Manning since he picked off a pass and was also credited with two strips, but Cutler was truly special Tuesday night. Remember how inaccurate Kyle Orton was on the deep ball last year, not putting enough air under it and overthrowing a flat-out speedster like Hester way too many times? That's not going to happen with Cutler, who has as strong an arm as any QB in this league but doesn't get nearly enough credit for the pillow-soft touch he puts on display from time to time.

Dud of the Day
For one reason or another, Kevin Jones was not especially sharp Tuesday either running or receiving. On the ground, he didn't find much room to run and failed to rip off a long one all night long. Through the air, he was targeted twice but didn't make a single catch, including a bad drop on a crossing pattern delivered by Hanie.

Quote to Note
"Offensively, you do things a little bit differently. On offense, you need to keep the offensive line together a little bit longer as a group. Defensively and some of the skill positions, you roll them constantly. No more than that." – Coach Lovie Smith on the difference between the practice reps at left guard and strong-side linebacker.


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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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