Filed by Ben Enos, filling in for Jonathan Okanes
The Bears enjoyed a quiet day in Strawberry Canyon on Monday, eschewing pads in favor of just helmets and shorts in a workout that lasted just under two hours.
It was another especially quiet day for Jahvid Best, as the Bears’ star running back missed another practice with a sore toe. He participated in stretching and did not wear a red jersey, but spent much of practice on the sideline working either with the tennis ball machine or with coach Jeff Tedford on pass catching technique. After practice, I had a chance to ask Best how the toe is coming along.
“It’s doing alright. Right now we’re kind of just being cautious about it. That’s why I haven’t been taking too many reps,” Best said. “It’s doing alright. It’s going as we planned.”
Best didn’t point to one specific moment when he might have irritated the toe, instead saying it is just another part of his rehab from offseason foot surgery.
Tedford said that Best is likely to be out again tomorrow for the team scrimmage. Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson also missed practice Monday with what Tedford termed a pulled muscle. Tedford said he is day to day. The Bears will head into the scrimmage with Shane Vereen as the top back on the depth chart but Dasarte Yarnway will see a good deal of time, as well as Kevin Lewis and Langston Jackson.
“We pretty much know what Shane can do. We’re not going to play Shane too much,” Tedford said. “Covaughn being out puts a lot of the load on Dasarte, Kevin Lewis and Langston. All those guys will play.”
Tedford said the staff will use Tuesday’s scrimmage as a day to evaluate the progress the team has made so far in camp, stressing that execution will be the main focal point for he and his coaches.
“They’ve been practicing really well. Now we’re getting off the field and we’re going to let them play. Hopefully we’re looking for organization and discipline on offense and being able to get in and out of the huddle and execute. On defense, to make sure we’re assignment perfect. I have no doubt there’s going to be great effort,” Tedford said.
Technique was the word of the day on Monday, with nearly the entire practice spent in position-specific groups. There were no 11-on-11 drills, no 7-on-7’s, and really not much interaction between the offense and the defense.
There was a point of emphasis on special teams, with onside kicks taking center stage for a few minutes. Giorgio Tavecchio looked especially impressive, popping two kicks high in the air off one bounce. David Seawright also had a couple nice tries. The Bears also worked on emergency plays in the event of a bad snap on PAT attempts. Bryan Anger completed both of his passes in the drill. Brock Mansion also took a turn as holder but had one of his passes dropped by Will Kapp.
Tavecchio also looked to be having a bit of fun during tackling drills for the kickers. On one attempt, Tavecchio hurled himself at the tackling dummy and ended up doing a full flip onto the tumbling pad.
On the injury front, Marcus Ezeff wore a red jersey because of a sprained ankle but did participate in many of the defensive drills. Chris Conte did not practice, but Nyan Boateng worked at full speed after wearing a yellow jersey on Sunday.
The Bears also added a new player, as long snapper Clark Porter joined the team to fill the spot vacated by the departure of Peter Geurts. Tedford said Porter was already on campus and that he’ll join the team as a backup long snapper.
On a lighter note, I asked Best if he had a chance to watch Usain Bolt break the world record in the 100-meter dash. Best, who won the California state title in the 100 at Salesian High with a time of 10.31 seconds, was in disbelief at the Jamaican’s time of 9.58 seconds.
“As a matter of fact, I watched it this morning on my phone. I don’t even know how to describe it,” Best chuckled. “It was a perfect race. That’s the only way you can describe it.”