Chicago Sun-Times

Updated: Minicamp Report: Day 3

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Here are some observations and not-so-deep thoughts from Sunday's session.

--- Roberto Garza pushed Brian Urlacher down and on a running play and then playfully drove him into the ground.

--- Fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou made a diving catch deep downfield. There haven't been this many passes thrown to fullbacks, by the way, since Matt Suhey retired.

--- Craig Steltz made a leaping breakup of a Caleb Hanie pass intended for Desmond Clark. Steltz intercepted Hanie again and later drew praise from coach Lovie Smith.

"I'm pleased with the amount of plays our secondary made," Smith said. "Craig Steltz really stood out with some of the plays he made.

I liked Danieal Manning at his position [strong safety]. Of course, Chris Harris was making plays. I feel pretty good about the secondary."

--- Chris Harris dropped a sure interception on a Jay Cutler pass intended for Devin Hester.

--- Johnny Knox is devastatingly effective on the 15-25-yard button hook. He stops on a dime and defenders struggled to catch up to him.

---- In the best shape: Israel Idonije: If I had a body like that I'd never wear a shirt.

--- Rookie defensive end Corey Wootton is quick off the ball. He was beating rookie free-agent tackle J'Marcus Webb on several plays with pure speed.

--- Frank Omiyale, playing right tackle, put Julius Peppers on his back. Don't read too much into this. There were no pads. But he looks more comfortable over there.

Here's Lovie on the minicamp. Believe it or not, he made an attempt at humor!

"I like what we did on both sides of the ball. The Bears won every play."

Not knee-slapping funny but, hey, it's a start ...

It's looks like the switch from left corner to right is official for Charles Tillman. Smith wasn't specific when asked about it. He basically said they were trying some different things, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli seemed to spill the beans.

"We think he's going to do a heck of a job over there," Marinelli said. "I like both our corners. Right now, I think we'll be fine."

More praise for Julius Peppers. So much praise, in fact, that it's starting to sound like a campaign. It's a good sign for the team, however, especially since his work ethic has been questioned in the past.

"We're better," Brian Urlacher said. "Anytime you get a player like Julius Peppers you get better right away. He's awesome. He works his tail off every day. He doesn't say much but he works his tail off."

Said Marinelli: "He's a tremendous player. Since the day he got here, in terms of all our offseason work, he's been a leader in terms of effort and tempo and fundamentals. Everything we've asked him to do, he's done full-speed.

"He's talented. No doubt about that. But I think the other thing is does is he brings to that unit and that defense leadership. It doesn't always have to be verbal."

Urlacher spoke to the media for the first time during the minicamp. He's clearly glad to be back, and looks fit and fast, which is about all you can judge during a minicamp.

I asked him if sitting out last season with a broken bone in his wrist gave him any perspective.

"It sucks," he said immediately. "It sucks, man. I got a lot of perspective. I never want to do it again. It was frustrating. I never missed a season -- high school, college, nothing. The closest I came was '04 whern I missed a few games with my hamstring. It was frustrating."

I asked him what the worst part of missing the season was.

"Not being up here all the time and being around my teammates," he said. "I missed football, obviously, but the most fun I have is with my teammates."

Finally, I asked him if being away from the game made him think about how much longer he would like to play. He didn't bite.

"No. It didn't cross my mind."

Here's the story I wrote that will appear in Monday's Sun-Times that includes more from Marinelli and Urlacher.

Talk to Rod Marinelli about Brian Urlacher or talk to Urlacher about Marinelli and you'll get a similar answer: Presence. Both claim the other has it in abundance.

"He's right to the point," the middle linebacker said of the Bears new defensive coordinator. "You're going to do it his way our you're not going to play. That's the way he is. It's pretty easy. Do what he wants you to do and you'll play if you're athletic enough and good enough and fast enough."

After missing almost all of last season with a broken bone in his wrist, Urlacher was thrilled to be back on the field again during a three-day minicamp that concluded on Sunday at Halas Hall. Marinelli used the five practices to emphasize fundamentals and instill a philosophy that he hopes will add consistency to a unit that finished 17th in total yards last season.

"If you want to look at stats, I don't want to go there," Marinelli said. "What I'm looking for is every snap we max out and there's no inconsistencies, no up and down, no waves. What I like to see is for us to play our system, play it exactly right, play it with maximum speed, effort, angle tackling and play that snap as well as we can. Then play another one.

"That's how you should play this game. At the end of the day you look at the scoreboard and see how you did. Nothing should influence a defensive team."

Both Urlacher and Marinelli praised free agent defensive end Julius Peppers for his ability as well as his leadership and work ethic. Peppers was flip-flopping between right end and left end at minicamp. Where Peppers would play was not a subject Marinelli or coach Lovie Smith wanted to discuss in detail. The early plan appears to be moving him around based on individual matchups.

"We're better," Urlacher said. "Anytime you get a player like Julius Peppers you get better right away. He's awesome. He works his tail off every day. He doesn't say much but he works his tail off."

As for Urlacher, Marinelli said just having him back gives the team a boost.

"He's got a presence in the huddle," Marinelli said. "He can communicate. He can run the defense, and that's a confident feeling. That huddle is about confidence. You get the huddle break and he gets everybody lined up and ready and then his presence speaks for itself."

Here's a bonus quote from Marinelli on Peppers' versatility:

"He is really good left handed and right handed," Marinelli said of Peppers. "I've never been around a guy who could do that. [Ex-Illinois and Tampa Bay defensive end] Simeon [Rice] was able to do some things like that. This guy is very fluid."

Another bonus quote on consistency:

"In the NFL, the key is to be consistent because the season is so long," Marinelli said. "No ups and downs. We've got good talent, good veteran players who have done it. Now it's about doing it at a high level consistently. That's our challenge."

I know there are a lot of doubts about Marinelli based on how the defensive line played last season, but the guy demands respect and I'm liking what I'm hearing.

Here is Lovie on the wide receivers and some other general thoughts:

"They all had their moments making plays," he said. "I feel like we were fairly deep at the position, actually. We don't have a lot of experience there. I liked what our tight ends could do and Matt Forte looks as good as he has in a while. Everything is positive right now for a good reason."

I asked him if he had any opinion of how Major Wright was progressing now that the third-round pick had participated in both the rookie and full-squad minicamps.

"He's getting better," Smith said. "He's still a rookie, though. It's hard for the rookies. You've been the top dog and you come here and of course a lot of players are further along than you are but Major can catch the ball well. He's a good athlete. He'll only get better."

And on the subject of takeaways:

"We have to have more takeaways," he said. "It's as simple as that. We feel like we're going to be able to score points but you have to be able to get the ball back, of course. The No. 1 goal of our defense is to score."

Marinelli was also asked about Marcus Harrison, who didn't participate in the minicamp because he was sick.

"He's a big, athletic man who can really move," he said. "He did some nice things last year and next year he'll be doing the same thing again. He's going to take a step. We've got some inside players."

Sorry it took so long to get all this up. I had to catch a flight to Dallas for the NFL's Spring Meeting, where owners will be voting on the site of the 2014 Super Bowl and will perhaps even extend the new overtime rule to the regular season.

More on that later ...

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11 Comments

Neil & Sean, good stuff, you guys are doing a good job keeping all us in the fanbase up-to-date with everything to do with Chicago Bear football, keep up the good work.

I like Frank Omiyale at tackle better than inside at guard. When Chicago first brought Omiyale in last season, tackle is where I thought they were gonna play him. Omiyale has even said he prefers being outside at tackle vs inside at guard. Hopefully the guy pans out at right tackle, I think he will. If not Chicago has James Marten or rookie J'Marcus Webb to develope at the position.

I see Johan Asiata is getting most of the reps at left guard. I know the Bears really like him, and he might be a big reason Chicago didn't draft a guard in april. I know the guy has played right tackle at UNLV, and as a senior he played left guard. Also, as a senior at UNLV he didn't allow a single sack. The guys got nice size at 6-4 300lbs, so maybe he's Chicago's left guard. Lance Louis might be the guy Chicago is grooming to eventually replace Garza at right guard in a season. I'd like to see Asiata and Louis work out for the Bears.

Craig Steltz seems to be making plays, he could be one to watch out for this season also, especially if he keeps making plays. As far as Chris Harris dropping an int, I don't think its that big of a deal, its only May, and Harris is gonna ultimately end up at strong safety anyways GO BEARS!!

In the best shape: Israel Idonije: If I had a body like that I'd never wear a shirt.

Neal do you by any chance have pictures??? oh and maybe of Cutler to?

Do these guys actually sit and watch any bears games...Ron Turner through out his time here has had every QB throw the ball to the full back Jason McKie especially in the red zone. These guys say it hasnt happen since Matt Shuey retire. What total crap from bears beat reporters. I really doubt these guys watch bears football.

There are some bad signs here. Danieal Manning at strong safety? Yeah right, and I can be an All Pro QB. Manning doesn't have the football instincts needed to be a good safety, the only secondary position he's played well is nickel, and he's never shown anything to indicate he'd be good in run support. And moving Kevin Shaffer to guard, which he hasn't played since high school? Typical Lovie Smith, trying to fit another square peg into a round hole instead of just going out and getting a left guard. I guess he hasn't learned anything from the Omiyale failure. And we still have poor Israel Odonije, being bounced around like a pinball from tackle to end and back again infinitely. I don't know why he doesn't leave in free agency for a better team that would let him play one position where he could actually develop into a top lineman.

The Bears and reporters can hype all they want. After last season's disaster, in which bringing in a top QB resulted in getting two games worse, I have no expectations of anything good this season or any other until the three stooges are replaced. If the Bears surprise me, like they did in 2001, great. But I'm sure not counting on it.

"In the best shape: Israel Idonije: If I had a body like that I'd never wear a shirt."

Neil, if you had a body like that, you wouldn't be writing bad columns and blog entries; you'd be participating in Mr. Olympia competitions.

I agree Lovie drives me crazy always moving these players back and forth to various positions. Now it is also moving Tillman to the right side when Tillman has been solid on the left and is really good against the run which Bowman probably will not be as good particularly against the run.

Manning is a nickel back and a good one and great kick returner, why oh why does he get bounced around when he could be great in the Nickel and returner.

Indonije, is also an example of a guy that could be pretty good if he could be left alone and concentrate on a position.

Maybe the coach of the Chicago Black Hawks could take over and win with the Bears. Yes, I agree that the three stooges need help, where is Dr. Phil when you need him?

Wow someone is posting as me again, what a shock. You know Brando/Tripper sense I know its you. You may want to think about what you are saying. Your pretending to be me and hoping that I am a homosexual. There are very few reasons for one man to hope another man is gay, not that there is anything worng with that(Seinfeld). But none of them involve you actually being hetero. Its more like your Buffalo Bob, you like pretending to be something your not and your a bit hetero challenged.

Thats ok, just don't hurt anyone, and its flattering that you think of me so often and wish to be me. Well a gay version of me, but I have to tell you, I don't swing that way. Not trying to hurt your feelings, I just like girls and I am not really intrested in you like that. We can still talk football and everything, just no anything else. Well I will probably talk football, you will do strange things.

I feel horrible, if I led you on in anyway I am sorry. I am sure you will find a nice man to settle down with one day. Although I think you aiming a little high with Cutler.

By the way you shouldn't be affraid to come out of the closet, you don;t need to pretend to be someone else in order to express yourself Brando/Tripper. Its ok, everyone her already knows.

Now for a little football. Garza drove Urlacher to the ground on a running play? What else is new? Knox can run a hook? Wow he has moved up tp peewee league football routs. Who new a small lightning fast reciever would be good at a button hook. Hey is Cutler's arm stong enough to throw the ball 20 yards to?

Wait let me check box here.

Ok so:

Peppers is Athletic
Knox is Fast
Steltz can pickoff Hanie
Izzy is in shape.
Urlacher gets blown up on a run play.
Oh and Cutler has a strong Arm.
Omiyale is at RT. Hayes mentioned how impressive he looked at guard during mini camp last year. But know he is more comfortable. as long as they are not hitting.

The Bears are excited about mini camp? Who wouldn't be excited about mini camp? You get to play flag football all day with your friends, and you get paid a fortune to do it. What next? You get free food prepared for you by chefs as well? Next thing you know someone will pay you a small fortune to play a sport.

Wrigley this isn't hype, where have you ever heard anything on this list before?


This was one of the more informative articles that I've seen during this off-season.

Good job.

Creighton you are a _________.... anyone want to fill in the blank?

You are always saying that whatever anyone ELSE has to say about you is me. Dude you are the most childish man/?? that is on this site.

Realy the only one person that you need to worry about is yourself. I gave up putting up my opinion because I had to defend my name all the time because of ONE person that loves to troll blog sites.

Once again here to defend my name and does not surprise me at all. Havent bloged but maybe 4 post on this site since Biggs left.

Also you might have a problem Creighton. You are just wanting everyone to be brando just to make yourself feel whole again.

Hmmmm and your calling someone else a _______.

The Wrigley Field Bear is spot on regarding the three stooges. There is no reason for high expectations until they are gone. It starts at the top. We see it with the success of the Blackhawks, and we will see it, possibly, with the Cubs and Ricketts. Actually, I don't think there's much hope unless the McCaskeys sell the team. Otherwise, they will just higher another guy like Phillips, who will higher another guy like Angelo, who will hire another guy like Smith. And thanks, too, to Dahlilama, for seconding the Wrigley Field Bear about the three stooges. We have to keep pounding this idea.

Thanks Santa Barbara Tom, how about getting the honey Bears back do you or anyone else have any influence with Viginia McCaskey?

The real question if who is Moe, who is Larry and who is Curly?

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on May 23, 2010 1:39 PM.

Minicamp reflections was the previous entry in this blog.

Dan LeFevour's cousin runs Soldier Field is the next entry in this blog.

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