Recently in Practice update Category

The Bears released veteran punter Glenn Pakulak on Sunday.

He struggled in Saturday's practice and was outperformed by Zac Atterberry, the Lindenwood pickup.

If Atterberry does well he could be kept for training camp but with reduced rosters now (from 86 to 80) keeping specialty players is not going to be as common. Teams will use the depth for linemen.

Minicamp was preceded by physicals and weigh-ins on Thursday and there are a few changes worth noting:

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije, who is expected to move inside on a more permanent basis, is listed at 297 pounds, up 22 from last year. It’s by far the biggest change on the roster.

Idonije was doing some work at defensive end during OTA’s when the media was allowed in last week as Alex Brown (hamstring) was sidelined. The Bears certainly don’t want anyone playing outside at that size, but the feeling was Idonije could add the weight and remain as quick. It will be interesting to get his take as well as that of special teams coordinator Dave Toub on the change because he’s such a valuable contributor on special teams.

While you can’t say the Bears and Brian Urlacher are near resolving their differences regarding his contract, the biggest hurdle in reaching an agreement has been crossed. Urlacher is back and that puts the sides on course for a negotiation at some point.

So with that in mind—and a desire to focus on something else—we turn to some other issues worth watching at minicamp this weekend.

Six topics worth discussing:

1. What’s up with contracts for Tommie Harris and Devin Hester? Coming to an accord with Urlacher won’t put an end to the financial wheeling and dealings going on. Harris’ situation takes on the most significance because he is due to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2008 season.

The idea promoted in some corners that Cedric Benson was woefully behind in rehabilitating his broken left leg/ankle was off. Considerably.

If running around in shorts and a helmet counts for much, and we know it doesn’t, Benson looked pretty good Wednesday in the Bears’ practice at Halas Hall.

In fact, if Benson had not been wearing his No. 32 jersey, you might not have recognized him.

“I’ve lost about 10 pounds,’’ he said. ``Alternating my diet a little bit, and I feel great. That stuff really works.”

Mark Bradley is wearing a brace on his right leg following the surgery and tweaked the knee on the field during voluntary offseason workouts.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I’ll be ready for training camp. It was just some scar tissue.”

The team says Bradley’s return for the beginning of training camp July 23 is questionable, however.

We’ve got an answer regarding wide receiver Mark Bradley.

He’s missing in action because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month. Bradley’s had two ACL reconstructions and the team is calling him questionable for the start of training camp. This doesn’t bode well for Bradley, who made just six receptions last season. And that’s why we saw Brandon Lloyd running with the first team.

The shaky wide receiver position is a little shakier right now. Remember, Bradley started last season as the No. 5 receiver yet the club somehow promoted him to No. 1.

It’s Kyle Orton’s day to run with the first team today in the third OTA.

The Bears have opened the doors to media and the first 20 minutes of the workout have not turned up a lot.

A slimmed down Cedric Benson is running with the first team. I’m not sure if he’s looked this small since the Bears drafted him No. 4 overall in 2005. We’re talking about a reshaped Ced.

Wide receiver/returner Devin Hester and tight end Desmond Clark are on the field but are not participating in drills. Ditto linebacker Jamar Williams.

Twenty-four hours later the Ced Watch has ended.

Running back Cedric Benson participated in the OTA on Tuesday at Halas Hall a day after he did not show up for Monday’s initial OTA. No word on why he wasn’t there but the workouts are voluntary and right now the only player known to be volunteering to miss the lot is middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Three prominent Bears were not on the field at Monday’s first OTA at Halas Hall. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is no-showing in his contract staredown with the club, and running back Cedric Benson was also absent. Benson’s initial court date stemming from his Texas arrest earlier this month was scheduled for Monday, but he was not required to appear and attorney Sam Bassett said the next preliminary hearing will be June 30. Benson will not be required to attend then either, Bassett said.

No word on where Benson was. Attendance has never been an issue with him. He’s already missed a few days of the voluntary workout program after a delayed return from Texas following his arrest. If Benson has more than six absences, he will be required to repay the club $100,000, part of his signing bonus that was classified as workout pay.

The Bears got back to work today at Halas Hall with the first of 13 schedule OTA’s (organized team activities).

The team’s Web site has a photo of rookie running back Matt Forte breaking out of his position in the backfield. He must have been running with the second or third team because center Olin Kreutz is in the background looking on, and we’re not aware of a demotion. The Bears will open up Wednesday’s practice to media (it used to be the team was more accommodating and all OTA’s were open) so we’ll get a better idea of who’s where then.

The Bears are getting healthy just in time for the offseason.

All but LB Lance Briggs (hip) and QB Rex Grossman (knee) participated fully in Friday’s final practice of the season in the Walter Payton Center. Briggs and Grossman both participated on a limited basis and are listed questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field with the New Orleans Saints.

The official injury report came out and DT Tommie Harris (left knee) and WR Muhsin Muhammad (ankle) were the only two players to miss.

Players who had limited participation: WR Bernard Berrian (knee), LB Lance Briggs (hip), QB Rex Grossman (knee), RT Fred Miller (ankle) and DT Darwin Walker (left elbow).