OTAs Report: Wednesday, June 16

QB Jay Cutler (AP: Nam Y. Huh)

How is the depth chart shaking out at wideout? Who was getting snaps on defense with the vets resting? JC had a front-row seat at OTAs Wednesday for the Chicago Bears and made these observations:

Pick Six
Not that anyone expected sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour to come in and challenge Caleb Hanie for the backup job behind Jay Cutler, although it's become increasingly clear the rookie is getting the proverbial redshirt season and won't be anything more than a necessary arm in training camp. Cutler was rather unimpressive Wednesday, completing 7 of 12 passes in 7-on-7 drills and 4 of 7 in 11-on-11 action, including misfires on his final three attempts. He did, however, make one especially pretty throw in red-zone 7-on-7, hitting Devin Aromashodu high in the back of the end zone over the helpless safety combination of Danieal Manning and Craig Steltz. Hanie was also 7 of 12 in 7-on-7, but he finished strong by connecting on 8 of 9 in 11-on-11. His best effort of the day came on a post to Juaquin Iglesias, who continues to do well during the offseason program. ...

The first-team defense wasn't running at full capacity, as several veterans didn't take part in full-squad drills and watched from the sidelines as their younger cohorts tried to put quality plays on tape. Both Pisa Tinoisamoa and Lance Briggs took the day off at linebacker, which meant more snaps for Nick Roach on the strong side and newcomer Brian Iwuh over on the weak side. Steltz was getting all the reps at free safety while Chris Harris looked on, which still seemed a bit odd since the more athletic Manning continues to be down in the box at strong safety. Israel Idonije was with the starters at defensive end more than he has been the last few weeks, but that was more a product of Mark Anderson having a light day's work. With Henry Melton unavailable to do anything more than light running on the side, Matt Toeaina was again subbing with Tommie Harris at three technique. ...

We have quite a battle going on at receiver, but not for the first three spots in the rotation. Aromashodu, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox have all enjoyed tremendous offseasons and appear to be getting more comfortable with their roles in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system on a daily basis. On the other hand, Earl Bennett, who was a starter this past season, dropped another pass in the end zone from Hanie in red-zone drills and seems to be falling further and further down the depth chart. Both Iglesias and Rashied Davis are being targeted regularly and coming down with the football more often than not. As a matter of fact, when Hanie is at the controls, sometimes it feels like Davis is his primary read on every play. ...

While both the first- and second-unit offense were turnover-free for the majority of the day, Cutler fired a pair of interceptions in the span of four snaps during his last set of 11-on-11s. The first one was on an ill-advised throw to Hester running a skinny post down the seam, as there was no room to fit the ball into the receiver and nickel back Corey Graham secured it with his abdomen before hitting the deck. Shortly thereafter, Cutler didn't account for Roach dropping back into zone coverage on a deep crossing route to Davis, so the linebacker simply stepped into the throwing lane and made the easy INT. Hanie had been committing turnovers at an alarming rate lately, including four picks this past Wednesday, but this time he emerged unscathed. Although Iwuh almost got him, tipping but then dropping a Hanie over-the-middle pass intended for Desmond Clark. ...


WR Devin Aromashodu
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

There were also some veteran offensive players not doing very much Wednesday, including free-agent acquisition tailback Chester Taylor. That meant all kinds of second-team reps for both Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell. Wolfe is known as a tremendous receiver out of the backfield, which has never been a strength for Bell. But Bell has apparently worked hard on what is a necessary trait for a ball carrier in Martz's offense. During one-on-one drills, Bell made a one-handed snare in the corner of the end zone on a touch pass from LeFevour, falling to the ground but immediately popping up to show the coaches he indeed made the grab. ...

The play everyone will be talking about until next week came courtesy of Hester. Although he has lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation once or twice throughout OTAs, never has he actually thrown the football. But all that changed Wednesday, as Hester took the shotgun snap and faked an inside give to Matt Forte. Instead of simply keeping it and darting around the end, Hester quickly fired downfield to a streaking Knox, who had gotten behind a napping Charles Tillman. When Hester ended up hitting Knox perfectly in stride, the practice field erupted and Hester did a little celebratory dance.

Injury Report
Along with Melton, Brandon Manumaleuna was doing some light running on the side. Chicago's new tight end says he will be ready for training camp, which begins at the end of next month. Still recovering from offseason surgery on his Achilles, Olin Kreutz was not in attendance. Brad Maynard is closer to full strength following a procedure on his hip. It was still Richmond McGee doing the honors during special-teams drills, but Maynard did some half to three-quarter strength punting on his own.

Stud of the Day
After that Wildcat touchdown pass he chucked to Knox, it has to be Hester. He may never be a true No. 1 in this league, but he has practiced well all offseason long. Even better, he really likes Martz's offense and believes it will put him in position to make plays more than ever before.

Dud of the Day
It was an uninspired effort Wednesday from Cutler, as he was picked off twice. While two INTS isn't the end of the world, there weren't a lot of quality throws on display to help you forget those gaffes. OTAs are starting to get a bit boring and monotonous for the players, which is probably why Martz called that Wildcat pass from Hester to Knox in the first place.

Quote to Note
"I don't know. I'm not in that man's head. You have to ask Mr. Martz. I don't know how many plays there are. We have a lot. I don't know if that's half of the playbook or what." – WR Rashied Davis, when asked how much of offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system has been installed so far.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter 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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