Believe it or not, we’re halfway through training camp. Here’s what has stood out during the first 10 days:
–Nothing has been decided at quarterback, although Nate Longshore probably has a slight edge at this moment. Longshore has completed more passes and made fewer mistakes during 11-on-11 drills so far. That being said, Kevin Riley is coming on. He looked as good as he has all fall last night, and has had a couple of his better practices recently.
–Jahvid Best’s hip won’t be an issue. He’s taken several good, solid hits and there have been no complications.
–There’s some uncertainty on the offensive line, for two reasons. One, projected left tackle Mike Tepper has yet to practice in a full capacity as he recovers from surgery on his left pectoral muscle. That has moved projected right tackle Chet Teofilo over to his spot, with redshirt freshman Mitchell Schwartz taking reps at right tackle. Two, nobody has separated himself at left guard, the position vacated by Brian De La Puente. Richard Fisher had a good spring and has taken the majority of the reps, but Mark Boskovich also is in the picture. And now, Chris Guarnero is getting a look there. Guarnero was a hightly-recruited guy but until now was stricly a center, the heir apparent to Alex Mack. But it may come down to the Bears simply wanting to get their best linemen on the field.
–Wide receiver Marvin Jones could be a star. He already is playing so confidently for a true freshman. He has the size (6-3, 185) and athleticism to become a nightmare matchup for opposing defensive backs.
–Wide receiver Nyan Boateng looks like he means business. During the spring, Boateng didn’t demonstrate the best practice habits. He appears to have shaped up his act in that department. Combine that with his natural ability, and he could be a serious weapon.
–Tight end Cameron Morrah appears ready to break out. Maybe he heard all the talk about Tad Smith during the spring. Morrah has been the quarterbacks’ favorite target during camp, and you could make the argument he’s the team MVP during camp so far.
–The Bears’ defense is going to be a lot better. The 3-4 suits them better, and their depth at linebacker is a strength. Cal also appears to have found a pretty good nucleus of linemen that will provide an upgrade because of experience and new talent. Rulon Davis, Tyson Alualu, Derrick Hill, Cameron Jordan, Ernie Owusu and Kendrick Payne are all playing pretty well this camp. Mika Kane is also in that mix, but he’s missed the past several days with a sprained ankle.
–With all the depth the Bears have at linebacker, true freshman Mychal Kendricks still has managed to stand out. Kendricks gets after it all over the field and has made several plays. Even with all the players in front of him, I would think Kendricks will see some time as a true freshman.
–Junior college transfer Bryant Nnabufie should be in the rotation immediately. Bernard Hicks and Marcus Ezeff are penciled in as the starting safeties, but Nnabufie has really stood out in camp and could push for playing time. Nnabufie has been playing both safety and cornerback.
–Center Alex Mack has developed into a team leader. He’s much more vocal on the field, shouting instructions or expressing enthusiasm.