By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 at 10:15 pm in Training camp.
Jeff Tedford was pretty direct after practice tonight: Unless a player is injured, the reason for his inactivity will remain undisclosed.
A pair of defensive starters — cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson and linebacker Eddie Young — didn’t practice. When asked after the game why they were held out, Tedford said: “If there is something wrong with guys, I’ll let you know. Besides that, we don’t need to comment on things that go on out here. If there’s something wrong with them and they can’t practice and it’s newsworthy, then it’s newsworthy. If it’s something that we’re doing in-house here, nobody needs to know about it. Let’s leave it at that.”
Thompson and Young still attended practice and Young did push-ups intermittently throughout the sesson. There didn’t seem to be any tension. This doesn’t appear to be anything more than your run-of-the-mill missed class or meeting. We’ll see if they are back on the field tomorrow.
On the field tonight, quarterback Kevin Riley sent notice that he plans on keeping his job as starter. Riley, who has been efficient and sharp so far, had arguably his best practice of training camp. One of his signature plays came during on 11-on-11s when he faked a handoff and rolled right, only to have linebacker Charles Johnson in his face (Johnson was getting Young’s first team reps). Riley made a quick decision, promptly dumping a pass off to tight end Anthony Miller in the flat.
It wasn’t a big gainer, but it demonstrated that type of command and awareness that Tedford puts such a premium on.
Riley also put nice touch on a beautifully thrown pass on a wheel route to Jahvid Best, who had the pass drop off his fingertips. Riley also was very accurate during 1-on-1 drills.
Tedford said after practice that he’s been very happy with all three quarterbacks so far.
“The quarterbacks are much improved, even from the spring,” he said.
That being said, Riley has clearly been more accurate than Brock Mansion. Mansion certainly has had some good moments, but he’s consistently missed more receivers than Riley. He actually threw a couple of nice balls Wednesday night, but also made a few mistakes. One came during 11-on-11s when he had Alex Lagemann open, but waited too long to pull the trigger, allowing the defense to close and break up the play.
Marvin Jones continues to shine, but Michael Calvin had a rough stretch where he dropped a handful of passes. Nyan Boateng made a tough catch during a hurry-up drill at the start of practice, falling to the turf after slipping but still hauling in a pass from Riley while lying on his back.
The Bears did their first work of camp with kickoffs, albeit briefly. It was a drill mostly designed to have the kick team practice its run-up to the kick, but all three kickers still got a couple of chances to boot the ball downfield. Giorgio Tavecchio kicked it to the 4 and the 9, David Seawright got it to the goal-line and the 12, and Vince D’Amato’s one kick went to the 3.
All three kickers practiced short field goals and all were accurate on almost all of them, although Seawright went wide left a couple of times.
One other dynamic of practice that is new this year: During 11-on-11s, a horn will sound and the offense and defense must drop everything and spring to the end zone. Tedford said this is designed to prepare players for a sudden change during a game, such as a penalty wiping out a long gain or an interception that sends the defense right back on to the field after the kickoff.
“It’s putting condition in the body during practice,” Tedford said. “You have to get back, you have to pay attention to detail when you’re a little bit winded. I’ve been really happy with the shape they are in.”