Kevin Payne and Craig Steltz spent Wednesday running with the first team at safety. That could be one of the more compelling positions to watch come training camp, but coach Lovie Smith said the voluntary offseason program has helped answer some questions. Steltz, no question, has been one of the bigger climbers this offseason. The belief is his instincts and smarts will help make up for a lack of range at free safety.
"It's clearer,'' Smith said, of the position. "There are lot of positions that will go down to training camp. We're excited about where we right now, but we have to get there and then we'll really know. The next part of the evaluation process is to see the guys in pads, then in the preseason games.
"I like our preseason schedule, the teams that we have to play to get ready. A team like Buffalo that can run and pass, a similar offense. The next week a physical team like the Giants coming in. The third game of course is normally the game that everyone looks at, and to go on the road playing of course in a prime-time game, all of that is getting us ready for of course the Packers.''
*** Corey Graham was not in the mix at safety. He's been playing nickel cornerback since Danieal Manning was "nicked'' last week. Graham has gotten work at nickel, safety and cornerback this offseason. Graham played nickel for two games last season.
"You're just trying to find a way to play no matter where it is--safety, corner or nickel,'' Graham said. "It doesn't really matter to me. I just want to get out on the field and try to help out.''
*** Staying in the secondary, Charles Tillman was out as he continues to work his way back from shoulder surgery. Zack Bowman got work at left corner with the starters, and Smith singled him out for his work the past few months. Proving he can stay healthy moving forward will be the key.
The player who stood out Wednesday was Trumaine McBride, who was with the second team at right corner. McBride picked off a pass that went off the hands of Devin Hester and then broke up passes to Michael Gaines and Adrian Peterson on the next two snaps. Three snaps and three plays on the ball.
*** Caleb Hanie has clearly taken control of whatever competition there is to be the backup quarterback. He's edged ahead of Brett Basanez. Hanie throws a good deep ball and that was evident on his pass to Juaquin Iglesias on the final play of the workout.
*** Frank Omiyale worked with the first team at left guard. It will not be a surprise if he opens there when training camp arrives.
*** It hasn't taken long for Pisa Tinoisamoa to get work with the first team at strong-side linebacker.
*** Brandon Rideau continued to get some action with the first team. The more Jay Cutler talks about the wide receiver, the better positioned you think Rideau will be when camp opens.
*** Second-year defensive tackle Marcus Harrison looks ready to play nose tackle. He's bulked up considerably this offseason, and has been sidelined some with a nagging knee issue. Harrison had knee surgery before his final season at Arkansas. It will be interesting to see how he looks when camp opens.
*** Rookie safety Al Afalava stood with position coach Gill Byrd deep behind the action during some drills. Afalava just arrived for the offseason program this week because of the rule that prevents players who have not graduated from attending until graduation has been held at their school. He attended Oregon State, which is on the quarters system.
Check back Thursday for some more notes and nuggets.