Jeff Tedford was very happy with how his team performed during its full pad practice Saturday morning. It was the Bears’ third full pad practice in the past four days, and he said his players had some bounce in their step.
“Great work today — very physical, very energetic,” Tedford said. “It was real good. They came out charged ready to go right from the first period.”
Tedford provided the first glimpse of how the running back depth is taking shape, allowing that Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson is starting to separate himself for the No. 2 position behind starter Isi Sofele.
“Covaughn has had a real nice camp,” Tedford said. “Covaughn came back in shape ready to go. I think right now he’d be the second guy. The third guy is still up for grabs.”
Tedford said next week other players will start getting more reps at running back. He will scale back on Sofele’s reps (“We know what Isi can do,” he said.) and possibly DeBoskie-Johnson’s if he solidifies the No. 2 spot.
“If the 1s and 2s are entrenched at that point and we feel good about it, then we’ll try to get a 3, 4 or 5 guy a lot more reps to identify who the third and fourth guys are,” Tedford said.
But Tedford said he isn’t sure who the leading candidates are yet behind Sofele and DeBoskie-Johnson.
“We’re not there yet,” he said. “Each day they do different things. It’s mental as wlel. They have to understand assignments and things like that.”
Tedford actually wasn’t happy with his running backs today because he said there were too many fumbles. He even said C.J. Anderson had a nice 60-yard run but then ruined it by fumbling on the next play.
“He canceled that one out,” Tedford said.
Tedford made sure to point out to reporters that the running backs were doing “up-downs” on the field while he was answering questions.
“We need to improve. Too many balls on the ground today,” he said. “The defense was popping, separated the backs from the ball a couple times. We can’t have that, obviously. With those young backs, ball security is the No. 1 thing. That’s the thing that happens with every young back. Every young back gets whacked a few times and the ball comes out until they learn how important it is.”
Some good news for the Bears on injuries: Left tackle Mitchell Schwartz (hamstring) practiced in full capacity for the first time this spring. Freshman linebacker Jason Gibson also returned from a high ankle sprain, coming back after only a couple days off when Tedford thought it would be a lot longer.