By Jonathan Okanes
Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 9:28 pm in off-season stuff.
The Bears began the final week of the spring with a pretty lively practice at a frigid Memorial Stadium on Monday night. As has been the case for most of the spring, the defense has outplayed the offense.
As the Bears do often at practice, they practice the two-minute drill near the beginning. The first two plays were a floated incomplete screen pass by Kevin Riley that could have gotten a tailback killed, followed by a drop by wide receiver Michael Calvin. After a solid gain on a screen to Tracy Slocum, Tyson Alualu knocked down a Riley pass. Riley then completed short passes to Calvin and Nyan Boateng.
Backup quarterback Brock Mansion struggled in the two-minute, making a bad throw that was almost picked off by Darian Hagan, overthrowing a screen pass to Shane Vereen and then overthrowing tight end Skylar Curran.
All that being said, the Bears generally practiced hard. They showed great enthusiasm and work ethic during individual drills. Defensive end Rulon Davis continues to impress with his high motor — he abused left tackle Mike Tepper during a one-on-one exercise.
The offense made a comeback later in practice during a drill in which it goes against the defense’s front seven. The offensive line dominated the drill, opening up gaping holes for running backs to run through.
Speaking of the offensive line, redshirt sophomore Richard Fisher has opened some eyes this spring. He’s spent the past several practices taking most of the first team reps at left guard, taking snaps away from Mark Boskovich. Fisher, a walk-on, is one of several young promising offensive linemen for the Bears. So far, he’s emerged from that group as the one who has progressed the most.
During crossover near the end of practice, Calvin made a terrific catch tiptoeing down the sideline. Tight end Tad Smith then made an incredible grab in traffic, falling down as he was well-defended by Charles Amadi and Brett Johnson and somehow hanging on as he hit the turf.
Fellow tight end Cameron Morrah missed practice. Coach Jeff Tedford said he had an asthma attack earlier in the day. There also is a flu bug going through the team that led to a handful of other players missing time.
Tedford said wide receiver Jeremy Ross, who suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday, will miss the rest of the spring.
Jesse Brooks got some rare reps with the first team at free safety. Bernard Hicks played rover with the starters while Marcus Ezeff backed him up. As I’ve said all spring, the lineups should be taken with a grain of salt, especially on the defensive side where coordinator Bob Gregory has been liberal experimenting with different combinations, especially in the secondary.
When asked what he was looking for during the last week of practice, Tedford said he wanted to see his team “cut it loose” on Wednesday and Saturday. Should make for a couple of interesting practices.