Filed by Ben Enos, filling in for Jonathan Okanes
A spirited day of practice Monday left the Bears looking forward to Tuesday, the first day they’ll practice in full pads. And, while no earth-shattering news came out of Monday’s workout, both players and coaches seemed to lay the groundwork for what should be an intense next couple of days.
Monday’s practice started under a hot sun, and Kevin Riley looked sharp right from the start with the first unit in 11-on-11 drills. A nice checkdown to Shane Vereen and a slant to Nyan Boateng provided some early highlights and, as a whole, the passing game looked good for much of the first part of practice. Brock Mansion completed a couple nice passes as well, but he also sailed a few high throughout practice.
The best throw of the day belonged to Beau Sweeney who, in an 11-on-11 drill late in practice threw a laser right down the seam, finding Charles Satchell for about a 20-yard touchdown. There was only one real transgression by the quarterbacks, with Riley missing Alex Lagemann and instead finding Marcus Ezeff late in practice.
(And, for those interested in the offensive line battle, the first unit had Mike Tepper at left tackle, Matt Summers-Gavin at left guard, Chris Guarnero at center, Chet Teofilo at right guard and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle)
What started as a nice day for the receivers deteriorated a bit near the end of practice. Nearly every receiver had trouble holding onto the ball at one point or another, and the drops even made their way to the defense, with Darian Hagan dropping an easy interception in the end zone. All in all, it was an inconsistent day for the receivers, with just as many high points as low ones.
One receiver who is definitely looking forward to tomorrow’s practice is Michael Calvin. Continuing his comeback from a torn ACL last year, Calvin even tried a couple snaps Monday without the brace on his right knee. He looked good running routes and made a couple nice catches in drills throughout the day.
“I feel like I’ll be ready,” Calvin said. “One thing I’m trying to work on right now is working out of my brace. I’m just trying to get my confidence back. I tried it without the brace today and I feel way better than I do with the brace.”
Calvin also added that the drops were a topic of conversation among the receiving corps after practice, saying the unit knew it wasn’t at its best on Monday.
Coach Jeff Tedford was pleased with Monday’s workout, complimenting the enthusiasm and learning taking place at practice. Even with a good session though, Tedford was certainly looking forward to Tuesday’s first practice in pads.
“We get to play real football tomorrow and that’s something you always look forward to,” Tedford said. “You do this thing with just helmets and then you go to shells and it’s a progression into pads. We get to cut it loose tomorrow and play football for real.”
The team worked a little on special teams, working on catching punts and then on punt coverage as well. The group of potential punt returners included Jeremy Ross, Boateng, Vereen, Syd’Quan Thompson and Marvin Jones.
There was one blip in an otherwise uneventful workout when, about midway through the evening, Derrick Hill and Dominic Galas got into a brief shoving match. Both came out of the lineup immediately and were talked to by Tedford but each returned to the field shortly thereafter.
On the injury front, Verran Tucker returned to the field after suffering a leg injury on Sunday and showed no ill effects. Tight end Spencer Ladner wasn’t so lucky, however, as Tedford said the redshirt freshman pulled his hamstring near the tendon. Tedford said Ladner will be out for a while. LB Mike Mohamed missed practice to attend class.