Chicago Sun-Times

Bears Training Camp Digest -- Day 4

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There's nothing worse than a dress rehearsal for a dress rehearsal, which is basically what training camp practices without pads are. So after two days of almost purposely going through the motions, the Bears players and coaches are eager to get to Saturday night's practice in pads. They aren't alone.

Still, it wasn't entirely an uneventful day at Bourbonnais on Friday. Here's a capsule look at what happened on Day 4 of Bears training camp:

1. Devin Hester gets hurt, but returns to practice.

The Bears' ace kick returner -- and No. 2 wide receiver as of now -- gingerly walked off the practice field with trainers nearby after colliding with safety Major Wright -- a no-no in a non-contact practice -- on a downfield pass play. He said he tweaked his ankle ''just a little bit'' but returned after jogging off the injury on an adjacent practice field.

''I really don't know [what happened],'' Hester said. ''Both of us were going for the ball. It just kind of happens in football.''

Wright was absolved of blame for the contact by coach Lovie Smith, but it was typical of the tough luck Wright has making plays for the Bears. Brian Urlacher suffered a sprained left knee ligament in Week 17 against the Vikings last season when Wright fell on him after leaping from behind him to defend a pass in the end zone that Urlacher had a bead on.

2. Alshon Jeffery catching everything in sight.

It's only a non-padded practice in training camp, but the rookie from South Carolina has been impressive, looking like he's done this before in his first NFL training camp. As second-team players, Jason Campbell-to-Alshon Jeffery looks better than some first-team passing connection in previous Bears training camps.

The true test will come when Jeffery faces press coverage in the preseason. But if he can figure that out, he has a chance to be as productive as he looked like he could be when the Bears drafted him in the second round in April.

3. Chris Williams gets first-team reps.

The ''battle'' for the starting position at left tackle will begin in earnest Saturday night, but Williams got his first shot with the first team Friday after J'Marcus Webb played primarily with the first team in Thursday's opening practice.

Still, the position to watch in practice is right tackle, where Gabe Carimi is starting after missing the final 14 games of his rookie season with a knee injury. His backup in the first two practices has been James Brown, the undrafted rookie from Troy who bears watching as well.

4. Shea McClellin plays on special teams.

McClellin, the rookie defensive end from Boise State whom the Bears drafted 19th overall, worked almost exclusively on defense in the offseason program but will be on two phases of special teams -- most likely punt return and kickoff return -- if he's not in the rotation at end in the regular season, special teams coach Dave Toub said.

That said, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli likes what he sees from McClellin at defensive end and will give him every chance to win a spot in the rotation at end.

''He has exceptional speed,'' Marinelli said. ''But he's not just fast -- it's that initial movement. I call it reaction to movement. That suddenness off the move -- if something moves, he's gone. He's got that awareness to him. Some guys are fast with no awareness. He's very athletic. I believe -- and we'll see as we go -- [that] he's very, very tough.''

5. Brian Price passes his physical.

The defensive tackle acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reportedly for a seventh-round pick in 2013, did not practice Friday because he was taking his physical. Price passed the physical (he had failed the Buccaneers' physical), but per NFL rules will have to practice three days without pads before he can practice with pads. That means he won't be able to participate in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills until Wednesday.

Coach Lovie Smith said the Bears are a good team for Price, who has struggled with personal problems in the NFL, to re-start his career. The 2010 second-round pick (35th overall) started 14 games for the Buccaneers last season.

''I think we have a great locker room for any player coming in,'' Smith said. ''You want to be successful, you want another chance, to make some things right, or just a new start, this is a great place for it.

Then again, the Bears' training camp is not a halfway house. It's the NFL.

''Our guys are going to meet him, be there for him, as a teammate, and let him know how we do things,'' Smith said. ''But we're bringing him in here to help us win football games, and hopefully that's what he comes in here to do.''

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on July 28, 2012 7:23 AM.

Brian Price passes Bears physical was the previous entry in this blog.

Brian Price excited about his "fresh start" is the next entry in this blog.

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