The Bears' mid-afternoon practice was as spirited as it could be on a steamy day in Bourbonnais Saturday -- exactly a week from their preseason lidlifter against the Buffalo Bills next Saturday at Soldier Field -- playing conditions pending, of course.
WR Johnny Knox did not practice because of a lower-back issue. He's day-to-day, but sounded as if being held out was just a precaution at this point.
Rookie LB J.T. Thomas (lower leg) and second-year LB Chris Johnson also did not practice.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz missed practice to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio., where Marshall Faulk is among those being enshrined.
Maybe it was just coincidence, but without Martz, the defense seemed to make more plays in practice Saturday. Charles Tillman had three pass breakups, including a good play against Devin Hester over the middle in 7-on-7. Lance Briggs also had a pass breakup, thwarting a Jay Cutler-to-Earl Bennett connection.
Hester still made the play of the day, beating Tim Jennings for a touchdown on a pass from Cutler to the upper-right corner of the end zone. It was a great route by Hester and a perfect-touch throw by Cutler more than a mistake by Jennings on the play.
Sam Hurd looks like he's going to make a serious run at a receiver spot. He made a reaching grab on a slant from Caleb Hanie for a touchdown in 7-on-7.
The Bears are working hard on their running game, especially with utilizing TEs Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth. It looks like a work-in-progress, but they're going against a pretty good run defense, which has the edge in practice.
Anthony Adams, all 6-0 of him, leaped in the air to solidly bat down a Cutler pass.
Two plays later, Cutler threaded the needle to hit Kellen Davis over the middle for a big gain.
Rookie safety Anthony Walters made a nice play to break up a pass for 6-3 WR Kris Adams on a pass from Hanie.
Roy Williams made only one catch -- on the first play of 7-on-7 -- but wasn't target very often, if at all, after that.
Former Bears QB Jim Miller, now working for SiriusXM NFL Radio, was on the sidelines watching practice. Miller still is the last Bears QB to throw for more than 400 yards. He threw for 422 and 3 TDs against the Vikes in 1999. He threw for 357 against the Chargers the following week. That's the most passing yards ever in back-to-back weeks by a Bears QB.
For what it's worth, of all the Bears defensive linemen, I'm noticing Corey Wootton the most. He's very aggressive and going all out on every play. I'll bet he looks good on film, too.