Bye week practices always seem to have an extra dose of energy because there is no game planning going on and everyone is getting into the act. With no need for scout teams, third and fourth-stringers get reps and there can be some real spirited sessions.
The first couple of days of practice this week have been like that. Coach Jeff Tedford has been very pleased with practice so far this week, as the Bears paid special attention to fundamentals and details after Saturday’s loss at Maryland.
“I thought they had two really good days of practice,” Tedford said Wednesday night. “We hit quite a bit the past two days. I felt like we got a lot out of it.”
Unfortunately with hitting comes the risk of injury, and freshman wide receiver Marvin Jones went down in a heap midway through practice. He was attended to on the turf for several minutes before being helped to the sidelines. Tedford said after practice that he believed Jones suffered a sprained knee, but Tedford had just gotten a preliminary report as he walked off the field. There will probably be more information tomorrow, but it looks as though Jones will miss at least some time.
Jones hadn’t made quite the impact some had anticipated early on, catching just one pass for 8 yards so far. But his absence still will have a significant impact as the Bears continue to try to find consistency in their passing game.
The Bears have also spent the past two days flip-flopping Chet Teofilo and Mitchell Schwartz on the offensive line. Schwartz has been taking reps at left tackle while Teofilo has been on the right side. Tedford said it’s simply something the team is taking a look at, but Schwartz has been so good this season as a redshirt freshman that it’s something that could stick. Teofilo was slated to play the right side anyway this season, but moved to the left when Mike Tepper couldn’t go to begin the season.
Speaking of Tepper, Tedford said Wednesday he still didn’t know when Tepper would start practicing, but thought he might know more by the end of the week. Tepper has spent the first few weeks of the season wearing a limited contact yellow jersey and playing on the scout team defense.
A couple highlights from Wednesday:
–Freshman defensive tackle Trevor Guyton had a couple of nice plays, including one where he steamrolled fullback Brian Holley and sacked quarterback Beau Sweeney.
–Defensive end Sean Brown also played well, blowing up tight end Spencer Ladner on one individual pass protection drill.
–Right guard Noris Malele, who has really improved over last season, was getting down field to block and also nicely picked up linebacker Zack Follett on a blitz. That earned a high-five from offensive line coach Jim Michalczik.
As expected, the Bears are taking it easy with some of their banged up players during the bye week. Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson and running back Shane Vereen are wearing red jerseys and not practicing. Vereen still has a noticeable limp after suffering a sprained ankle Saturday. Thompson’s shoulder is fine, but he simply doesn’t really need the practice this week. Thompson is still very involved taking mental reps.
Wide receiver Michael Calvin and running back Jahvid Best are wearing yellow jerseys and just practicing in limited fashion.
The Bears will have one more practice this week on Thursday, which will end with a mini-scrimmage involving the younger players. They will then break for the weekend before coming back to start preparing for Colorado State.