Chicago Sun-Times

Omiyale nails down left guard job near end of quiet camp

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Looks like Frank Omiyale has nailed down the starting job at left guard.

That's not going to come as a surprise to anyone. Omiyale was projected to win the job when the Bears signed him to a free-agent deal just hours into the free agency period. But Josh Beekman has performed well in camp and this wasn't a runaway competition by any stretch of the imagination. Beekman is getting quite a bit of work now as a reserve center and he'll fill that role nicely.

*** Two days left in camp and what a quiet camp it has been. Sounds like an oxymoron because the crowds, with the arrival of Jay Cutler, have been bigger than ever. But other than Cutler, there just hasn't been a lot of noise. Bobby Wade got things stirred up for a few hours at the start of camp. Marcus Harrison was placed on the non-football injury list at the outset. Zack Bowman played well and then injured his hamstring. Danieal Manning has been out for some time. But there haven't been any big stories and, you know what, that's just the way Lovie Smith wants it to be every summer. Mission accomplished to this point.

*** Speaking of Harrison, he played more than any other interior lineman on Saturday night in Buffalo, and he played pretty well. The Bears were a little thin there with Tommie Harris sitting out and Matt Toeaina lost to a concussion during the game. Look for him to get a good look when the Giants come to town Saturday.

*** Strong safety Al Afalava had another good practice on Tuesday and it's just clicking for him. Sometimes rookies will flash and then they plateau just as quickly. He's still coming on and it could be interesting to see what happens when Manning returns healthy. The good thing is the Bears will have a little depth when Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman return because Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride will be in the mix.

*** The Bears have done maybe their best job in Smith's tenure staying healthy during camp. His players have it easier than almost any in the league the way the camp is structured. When the Bears do practice twice a day--today will be one of those days--it's a very light morning session that is heavy on teaching and light on activity. The Bears are efficient when they're on the field for one practice a day and the workouts are generally at a high energy level. Veteran players embrace it and they self police to make sure players stay in line. They don't want to be subjected to more two-a-days. The thinking is it's better to have one very good practice than two average workouts. Working more isn't necessarily working better. Now, if the team goes out Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field and lays an unprepared egg, well, you can come back and strike all of this. But you'll never hear players complain about the program.

*** Most underrated offseason pickup? How about offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer? He's got a ton of experience and will give the team flexibility and depth. With veteran Orlando Pace taking the practice off Tuesday, Chris Williams flipped over to left tackle to get some work there and Shaffer filled in. He's getting solid money as a backup but it's almost a luxury to have a guy like him as a third tackle.

*** Garrett Wolfe made a nice move with a screen pass on Monday in practice. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has been pledging there will be more work for him this season. Stay tuned.

*** Linebacker Nick Roach is dealing with his third concussion since 2004 but it's not believed to be serious. He had one last year in preseason following the Seattle game and was dinged during practice in 2004 at Northwestern before playing Wisconsin, according to archived stories. Probably a safe bet he doesn't get into Saturday's game, but we'll wait and see.

*** Punter (and sometimes kicker) Richmond McGee is the most consistent camp leg the Bears have had since Dave Toub came on board in 2004. He might just find a job somewhere in the league this season if he puts together some strong tape in the upcoming preseason games.

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15 Comments

If Afalava keeps playing the way he has then he should be the opening day starter at SS. Payne could stay at FS like he did vs Buffalo/the last (4) games of last season. D. Manning can remain the NB/KR and Graham slides back to fill out the depth chart at CB.

It gives the Bears the depth and flexability they need in the secondary. Graham can backup Manning at NB and push for playing time at CB. Payne can play both safety positions effectively. Manning can handle NB and be a backup at FS should injury occur.

SS: Afalava and either Steltz or Bullocks
FS: Payne, Manning
CB: Tillman, Bowman, Graham, Vasher, McBride, Turenne

Moore may find himself off the 53-man roster. He hasn't done much to standout, unlike Turenne has done. The loser of the Stelz/Bullocks battle will be off the roster. Stletz had a nice game vs Buffalo so he has the upper hand to go along with his draft status. The only advantages Bullocks has over Steltz is that he can play both safety positions and has plenty of experience as a starter. In a backup role those attributes may trump Steltz in the end but we will see how they playout.

Some good camp battles for roster spots loom down the stretch.

Go Bears !!

Garrett Wolfe may be small, but he sure is slow

Don't know if we should be concerned, or not, about Williams getting reps at left tackle. It can be an indicator of how confident they are in Pace being healthy. The obvious move if Pace can't go is to put Williams at left and Shaffer at right. However it is also obvious that Williams is inexperienced and needs all the reps he can get at right.

It's probably just covering all their bases. Camp is where to play out all the scenerios for position moves during the season. I haven't heard a peep about Pace. Be interesting to see how often this happens.

I hadn't heard, why is Kellen Davis sitting out practice?

lets hope afalava isnt just flashing. he did as well as we could have hoped our 6th round rookie was capable of on saturday. he was always around the ball, and while he was not perfect, his errors weren't backbreakers. i have high hopes for this guy, hopes which only intensify when i realize that if this is a plateau situation like biggsy mentioned, then we are subjected to 16 games of danieal manning. god help us if that happens

Camp may be quiet in terms of controversy, but the competition for spots has been hot and hopefully productive. Our defense is in need of a transfusion, much needed youth and playmakers are a glaring need. We saw them make an attempt to do some retooling by demoting Hunter at strongsside and opening up the competition with Pisa, Jamar, and Roach.....at corner we see that Vasher is seriously being pushed by the currently injured Bowman, and Graham with his solid play is in the mix at two spots, corner and nickel, where Daniel Manning has shown some promise, safety issues still previlant but showing some signs of getting better with the play of Afalava, Steltz just seems to be around the ball all the time although he is slow as pancake syrup running down the side of a bottle......Payne has been solid but needs to be left in one spot to shine...the other guys Turrene, bullocks, and Moore are also in the mix....On d-line we have some good interior players but are a little small at end, anderson still can't play the run, and Wale just is not big enough....Big Paw Alex Brown still doing a solid job, and with the play of Harrison in the middle last year and what he showed Sat, I'd like to see Gilbert put at end to give us some size against the off tackle runs and push off the edge....these guys are critical to our teams success this year, all great defense's have young guys who come in and play at a high level based on the history of the teams they join....for example look at Pitt, The Ravens and Giants we face this week, all these teams have guys who are playmakers and hitters that were not highly thought of coming out of college that make an impact and keep the defenses in the top of the league...It's time for the players we have who fit this scheme to start making some serious plays and take the pressure off Briggs, Tommie, Bryan, and Tillman......This is a big year for the team that is in transsition on the defensive side of the ball Harrison, Bowman, Graham, Jamar, and Afalava could make us a top ten defense again, but they must make plays consistently for us to take that step...Go BEARS

BensonSucks,

Payne is not a FS and the Bears can't make him one. They will have issues in the Secondary until they go get a true FS or Manning steps into the position mentally.

I know a few of you guys were rooting for Beekman but I think all of us saw the handwriting on the wall the day Omiyale was signed. Not to worry though because Beekman's not going anywhere and is valuable at now LG and C making him a dependable backup with good starting experience.

As for Al Afalava, that kid may make a mistake but at least he does it at full speed. I think Steltz - despite his good showing - could be on his way out. I never thought the guy was fast enough and with the emergence of Afalava, Steltz could find himself being squeezed out of a roster spot.

@Mike Laden: Wolfe is not slow, but he needs to not fall down as soon as a finger is laid on him. I think he's so small that he's afraid of dying after a hit.

By MSBearsFan on August 19, 2009 8:52 AM
"Don't know if we should be concerned, or not, about Williams getting reps at left tackle."

MS veteran players are allowed days off from practice during camp. All camps do it and it is common. All reports have Pace looking good in camp. Williams has struggled a little, but he is the next guy in line to play LT. So when Pace takes a veteran day, Williams fills in.

Breaking news boys and girls, the Broncos are shopping Marshall, the Jets are currently looking at him.

Sure would be nice to have a real Split End. But I know Angelo will not even look into him because Angelo sucks.(Last time I said that he got Cutler) So I am sure that the hose bag that is Angelo will not get Marshall cause Angelo sucks. By the way when people where talking about Plaxico or Matt Jones, I said give it time and Marshall would be available. Well he is and we need him.

Omiyale did not win the job everything that has been writen say Omiyale has been haveing a problem making the transition to guard. Beekman has looked solid and looked much better than Omiyale in the pre season game. Lovie is joke.

As for Camp injuries it's hard to get injured when your already hurt and don't practice much in a non contact camp.

Harris did not get hurt in camp because he is already hurt and practices little. If he is not hurt why does he not practice or participate much in practice.

Tillman, can't get hurt because he is already recovering from surgery and is not in practice.

Bowman is down.
Forte is down.
Manning is down.

Plus a handful of other guys have minor injuries.

So 3/4 of your starting secondary are down, your starting Under Tackle is hurt and plays little, and your starting RB has a nagging injury.

Did I miss something Brad? None of that is really good in terms of team health.

I felt I saw Wolfe - really hesitant needs to cut and swerve and right not fall down
Beekman I feel is being groomed as the Center as Olin has about -15 games left no dis but just an observation after the game.
Williams looked like he needs alot of reps out there and we know Pace does not.

We have to consider that our 2010 offensive line could possibly be Shaffer at RT, Williams at LT, Beekman at C, Omiyale at LG, and Garza at RG. Kreutz and Pace may not make it back for another year, and it is possible Pace may not even make it through this year. I say give Williams the first team reps at right tackle, and the second team reps at left tackle, and Shaffer is your backup RT. Balogh is terrible, and Williams needs as much game work as possible to get ready to play for the regular season.

Afalava is a pleasant surprise, and would be even better if we actually had a competent free safety on the roster. The Strong Safety spot is a spot where we have had success with rookies, but we are still looking for a free safety 5 years after Mike Brown's first leg injury. I am ok with Payne and Afalava, as long as Marinelli gets some additional production out of the defensive line. So far, no one has flashed anything, but it was only the first preseason game, so we will see this weekend against the Giants whether they can do something in a full half of action. We also need to see whether Bowman can do anything against another team, and make it through the game healthy. If we have him for 16 games, we can let Vasher become trade bait. Someone is bound to like him enough to give us a conditional pick (6th or 7th, with potential to get to a 4th if he pans out), and we can go younger, faster, and more physical with Graham, Bowman, Moore, and either McBride, Hamilton, or Turenne to go with Tillman. Vasher doesn't deserve to start any more, and is not that great of an option on special teams, unless you count punt returns.

Roach with another concussion has me concerned. I think we may find him on the outside of the depth chart, especially if we are going to keep Freeman. Williams, Freeman, and Hillenmeyer may be the backups, leaving Roach out of the mix. We are going to either need an extra DL or extra DB to account for the injuries, and if Tillman or Harris are not ready to play to start the season.

I still think the best thing we can do is put Tillman on the PUP list, and give him 6 weeks to round into shape, and he can come back for an easy game against the Browns on November 1st. Why risk him early, when he will not have the contact, strength training, and endurance needed to play a full NFL game? His second game will pit him against Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin, so I would rather have him healthy for that rather than beat up and hobbled by the time November rolls around.

Bring on the Giants!

I don't know, maybe Angelo can give up our 2011, 2012 and 2013 1st round draft picks to Denver for Brandon Marshall. If Angelo doesn't do this he sucks. Oh and throw in a bag of chips as well.

If we are looking for an upgrade to Basanez or a third string developmental guy, we should take a look at Tampa. Odds are one of the trio of Josh Johnson, Luke McCown, or Byron Leftwich are going to be released before the season starts. I am not advocating Leftwich, who may have the slowest release since Bill Cartwright (who can forget the crazy windmill of Big Bill in Chicago?), but Josh Johnson would be a very interesting prospect to consider. Young, athletic, strong armed....We would have 3 guys that can all move in the pocket, deliver the ball, and keep defenses guessing.
McCown is not that bad of an option either, if Leftwich wins the job.

I hope Johnson comes clear, as he has the potential to be better than Hanie or Basanez. Maybe we can send them Vasher for Johnson? Wishful thinking, and perhaps a bit of drug use involved in that thought, but stranger things have happened....

"[Lovie Smith's] players have it easier than almost any in the league the way the camp is structured."

Great. Here's a defense that has lost its ability to tackle well, yet Smith does not allow tackling during practice no matter what. Mike Tomlin had the Steelers tackling in practice when their tackling fell down during games, and they won the Super Bowl. The idea that the most important thing about practice and camp is keeping people healthy is idiotic, with some rare exceptions. The most important thing is preparing players and the team to play as well as their talents allow. If they don't do that, whether they get hurt becomes a minor detail.

I hope Ron Turner's serious. The coaches didn't have the sense to realize that they were relying too heavily on Forte midway through last season, so I tend to doubt they will find time for Wolfe this season either.

Garrett Wolfe, I don't know, we've seen him very little, but I just don't see that elusiveness and acceleration that guys with similar stature, like Darren Sproles and Leon Washington, have. I hope he has it, and we've just not seen it because he's used so little.

I think we all like that Wolfe has embraced his roll on special teams, but I'd like to see him come in late in games and run circles around defenses that, by that time, are exhausted from trying to bring down Forte and Jones. I'd really like to see him break off a couple of huge runs this year. But he has to get in the game first.

Break out Wolfe! Go Bears!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 19, 2009 1:26 AM.

Looks like Bears waiting on Bowman just as much as Tillman was the previous entry in this blog.

Dungy supports Marvin Harrison to the Bears is the next entry in this blog.

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