Couple nuggets from Saturday's practice under the lights at Ward Field:
*** The coaching staff was pleased with the way the offensive line performed Thursday against the Chiefs and that is one reason they have not switched the offensive tackles.
" It was a start,'' line coach Harry Hiestand said. "Guys have worked hard and we have a lot of work to do to keep getting better but it was a good start."
In the parlance of offensive line coaches, that is about as much praise as you will ever hear. The quarterbacks were rarely pressured and the backs piled up 175 yards. If there is a silver lining in all of the injuries on the line, it's that the remaining players have gotten an abundance of reps. That translated into an entire game for Josh Beekman. Rookie tackle Kirk Barton got extended time as well. They'll have a good idea in two or three weeks where these linemen are at.
*** Running back Kevin Jones was worked in a little with the third team during drills in his first practice as he was promoted from the physically unable to perform list. He's not near game shape yet but is working his way there.
"They're just working me in, I guess just to see what I can handle,'' he said. "So far what they gave me today was pretty good. I'm ready for the next step now.
"I felt great so I've got to be able to get a little more in there, 9-on-7 and stuff like that and then I'll be able to tell you exactly how I feel but what I had today I felt good. There was virtually no pain or anything.
Jones has said his goal is to win the starting job which is in the hands of rookie Matt Forte at this point. He took a subtle shot at his former team the Detroit Lions when asked if he could be better than he was before tearing the ACL in his right knee last December.
"I feel like I'm going to be better. I feel I'm on a better team with a better offensive line. So the product will be better that I'll be able to put out."
*** Rookie wide receiver Earl Bennett, the third-round pick from Vanderbilt, has been either really good (first few weeks of camp) or really shaky (spring, dropped pass in two-minute drill Thursday night vs. Kansas City). He atoned for that drop with a lunging touchdown grab of a deep ball from Kyle Orton during the two-minute drill to end practice tonight. Bennett got between cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. and safety Craig Steltz for the score.
"It's big confidence-wise to show these guys that I can do it," Bennett said. "Hopefully it shows that I can play with some of the top players in the league. We've got some great players on defense. They're fast. They really get out there. By me just coming out here making plays hopefully it catches the coaches eyes and gives me a spot."
*** Linebacker Mike Okwo has now missed a week with a leg injury, jeopardizing chances for the third-round pick from last year to make the club. He was on injured reserve all last year with a shoulder injury.
The Bears could keep seven linebackers to help form the foundation for Dave Toub's special teams unit and pass on Okwo. Behind the three starters, Jamar Williams is considered the top backup across the board right now. Rod Wilson is a quality special teams player who played well the other night, making more plays than just his interception. Nick Roach has had a strong offseason and summer and Darrell McClover has history as a special-teams standout and is ahead of Okwo on the depth chart.
*** Thursday's practice has been closed to the public. The Bears will take the field again Sunday at 3 p.m.