By Jonathan Okanes
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 11:03 am in Training camp.
Lost in the shuffle of the quarterback news yesterday was the fact that training camp came unofficially to a close following a helmet-only walkthrough-type practice. Officially, camp ends Saturday with a morning practice followed by Fan Appreciation Day, but when the Bears return to practice after a day off today, it will mark the beginning of game week preparation for Maryland.
Coach Jeff Tedford once again reiterated how pleased he is with how his team performed during camp.
“I’m very happy with the way it went,” he said. “I thought that every day we came out on to the field, the guys had really good energy, worked really hard and they were physical. It was very productive. We played well and the leadership was really good, and that afforded us to be able to have the work ethic that we had, because they all know what to expect out here.”
–After practice, Jahvid Best said he hopes to return to practicing in full capacity on Wednesday.
“I plan on practicing in full capacity,” he said. “I’m progressing right now. By the time we get into regular season practices, I should be practicing every day.”
Best said his sore toe “is not perfect, but it’s as good as it’s going to get right now.” He said he felt some soreness after taking his first hits in practice in some time on Sunday, but no different than the normal soreness a player feels. He said he feels no limitations in terms of his speed or ability to cut.
–Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said defensive end Cameron Jordan “responded very well” to his temporary demotion from the first team and “deserves to be back” with the starters. Gregory was unhappy with how Jordan performed in last Tuesday’s scrimmage. The next day, he replaced Jordan with Trevor Guyton on the first unit.
Apparently, Jordan got the message.
“Cameron’s last few days have been really good,” Gregory said. “He deserves right now to be back there. But Trevor is also playing well, which is good because that gives us even more depth.”
It also looks as though the Bears are going to stick with Mike Mohamed at weakside outside linebacker, although Gregory said Mohamed will play some inside as well. Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt are the inside backers with Eddie Young on the other side. Devin Bishop should still play a lot both inside and outside.
Gregory said he still needs to sort out the depth chart at linebacker. Second-stringers will see consistent reps during games as well.
“We want to make sure if guys go down, we have guys who can play different positions,” Gregory said.
Robert Mullins, who had been taking consistent second team reps at inside linebacker, suffered a knee injury and Gregory was unsure how severe it is. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI.
–Gregory was also happy with camp, and said having one year playing the 3-4 under their belts made a big difference this year.
“We knew exactly what we wanted,” Gregory said. “Early on in camp (last year), we were still kind of feeling our way about what we wanted. There’s not necessarily more calls, but we feel good about the package and what we want.”
–Now that the Bears’ quarterback situation is clear, it still remains to be seen how much improvement we will see in the passing game. Cal has two new offensive guards (Matt Summers-Gavin and Justin Cheadle) and a corps of receivers that didn’t distinguish themselves last year.
“The passing game was not all on Kevin last year,” Tedford said. “We had five guys on scholarship on the offensive line lost to season-ending injuries. We had brand new receivers. It’s not just Kevin that was the problem, and it’s not just Kevin that is the solution. It’s a team effort on the offensive side of the ball.”
Many observers feel the play of the wide receivers could be the difference between Cal being good and great this season. Wide receiver Marvin Jones, who has emerged as the Bears’ top pass-catcher, is confident in his group.
“We have the potential to be a great offense and a great passing team,” he said. “We just want to keep progressing as practices go on and the season goes on. I’ll tell you right now that we are 100 percent better in the passing game than we were last year.”