By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, August 16th, 2009 at 10:04 pm in Training camp.
The Bears didn’t look any worse for wear coming off their first double-day of training camp. They got some pretty good work in during a 2 1/2 hour practice this evening at Memorial Stadium.
Kevin Riley continues to take the overwhelming majority of the first reps. Coach Jeff Tedford says the evaluation is still ongoing, not just at quarterback but at several positions, but Cal now has had 11 practices and backup Brock Mansion hasn’t had too many opportunities to run with the first team.
Tedford has said repeatedly he will wait until the team starts preparing for Maryland to name a starter. That would come on Aug. 26. But after practice tonight, he allowed for a different timeline, saying “it could be anytime.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Riley being named the starter at this point. Tedford presumably could start giving Mansion more first team reps sometime soon, but it seems a little late in the game for that. Cal will have a scrimmage Tuesday night, and that could be a chance for Riley to sew things up. If Riley were to struggle, perhaps the coaching staff may start taking a closer look at Mansion.
When asked if the scrimmage will have a big impact on the decison, Tedford said “It will be part of the evaluation process, no question. Gathering information, day to day, is something that has been ongoing. Anytime you can put them on the field by themselves and see how they react and respond is a major part of the evaluation process.”
That all being said, Mansion had a terrific practice Sunday night. During 7-on-7s, he made back-to-back strong passes for touchdowns, the first to tight end Skylar Curran down the middle of the field and the second to Jeremy Ross in the right corner of the end zone. Both passes were put on the money against pretty good coverage.
Then at the end of practice during the two-minute drill, Mansion managed the clock and the team flawlessly, and got some help from what appeared to be a defensive holding call on a pivotal third down (there were officials at practice again). Mansion moved the offense from its own 40, completing all six passes he attempted, until connecting on a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tad Smith with four seconds left on the clock.
Riley had his share of moments as well. He made a good pass to running back Shane Vereen on a play fake and rollout to the right during goal-line situations, resulting in a 3-yard TD pass. He also had a few other plays in which he made good decisions against a strong rush from the defense, reacting quickly to find a receiver for a short gain.
–Tedford talked a little more about what has been ailing Jahvid Best lately. Best has a sore toe, and the team wants to make sure it is completely healed before he practices again. Tedford said Best practiced on the toe for about three days before they decided to shut it down. Best still is working out on the field before practice, getting his cardiovascular work in. Tedford stressed that the ailment is nothing serious and the team just wants to be cautious.
“There’s nothing wrong with him,” Tedford said. “He cuts so hard that when he has a sore toe, it hinders him quite a bit. He could get through it, but when we get to game week, he’s going to have the same sore toe. It’s just a matter of letting it calm down. It’s nothing major at all.”
–The Bears had some other players return from injuries today, but had a few others join the walking wounded. Defensive backs Sean Cattouse and Josh Hill practiced in full capacity while wide receiver Nyan Boateng and linebacker Mychal Kendricks wore yellow jerseys.
Marcus Ezeff, who limped off the field yesterday morning, has a sprained ankle but Tedford expects him back in a few days. Wide receiver Alex Lagemann missed practice because he is sick. Linebacker Ryan Davis wore a yellow jersey because of a cracked tooth. He is expected to have a root canal today.
–Tight end Jarrett Sparks had a nice practice. He had a few excellent blocks and also hauled in a touchdown pass from Mansion with one hand on the goal line.
–D.J. Campbell made a nice play on punt coverage, downing a Bryan Anger punt at the 1-yard line.
–New backup punter David Seawright appears to be improving. He stuck one solidly with great hang time that bounced inside the 10.
–Linebacker Jarred Price had a pair of sacks during 11-on-11s.
–After the first team offense scored twice in a row in goal-line drills, linebacker Mike Mohamed got a little fired up after stopping running back Dasarte Yarnway in the backfield on the next attempt.
–Backup running back Peter Geurts has decided to leave the team.