Monday represented the second to last public practice for the Bears before Thursday’s preseason opener against the Broncos (which is why I was there!).
It was a practice that looked representative of the current state of the team, featuring several performances from players looking to gain an edge in playing time.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Much has been made about Mitch Trubisky’s troubles in handling snaps from under center, but the rookie from North Carolina wasn’t the only one struggling in that department on Monday. Each of the Bears’ quarterbacks fumbled snaps, including the starter Mike Glennon (he even had a snap fly over his head). It’s evident that more work needs to be done in this department, as the Bears’ centers get acclimated to their new signal callers.
- To that end, it was refreshing to see Trubisky take additional snaps under center after practice concluded today. Every rep counts for each of the Bears quarterbacks, but more so for the “Bears QB of the the future” than anyone else. There are only so many practice reps to go around, which is why it’s important for him to get those in when he can. He’s not all the way there yet, but taking the initiative and putting in the extra work after practice is worthy of a tip of the cap.
- On the practice field, Trubisky impressed with his mobility, as well as his ability to throw while on the run. He needed to show that off a few times during the practice session, because of some protection breakdowns with the third-team offensive line. All things considered, that’s some quality athleticism he and the Bears can fall back on.
- The day’s best throw came from Mark Sanchez. He connected with undrafted free agent rookie Tanner Gentry deep down the right sideline during a two-minute drill, beating Kyle Fuller in coverage. You can see the all on Gentry’s fingertips here. Gentry spent a bunch of time working with the second-string, as he continued his push to break camp with the team. Sanchez was also the beneficiary of one of the day’s best catches, which came on another touchdown grab from tight end Adam Shaheen. The large rookie has been snagging everything thrown his way at camp, including a deep pass from Trubisky that beat second-year safety Deon Bush in the process.
- It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Sanchez, though, who also threw the day’s only interception.
- There isn’t a more fun player to keep an eye on than rookie running back Tarik Cohen, who cuts, jukes, and jab-steps swiftly and sharply all over the field. Whether he was lined up wide or in the backfield, Cohen was electric. He also showed some impressive balancing skills while fielding punts, as he caught several while holding multiple footballs.
- Eddie Jackson also fielded punts and continued to show the kind of speed and coverage skills that made him a force at Alabama. His health status will dictate how much (and how well) he plays in 2017.
- Up front, Cody Whitehair saw some time at guard and Hroniss Grasu played center in the wake of Eric Kush’s season-ending hamstring injury. Kyle Long practiced, but the Bears have some depth up the middle so they didn’t have to push him hard as he returns to actions.
- On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Prince Amukamara continued to impress. Amukamara had a clean pass breakup that drew applause from the fans in attendance. Amukamara seems to be locked into a starter’s role, and looks to be taking full advantage of it at camp.
- Jonathan Bullard stood out in a big way. The second-year defensive end pushed through the offensive line and busted Tarik Cohen in the backfield to stuff a play before it could even get started. Bullard was a third-round pick in 2016 who struggled in limited snaps as a rookie. If there is anything to be learned here, it’s that running Cohen straight into the line is not a great idea.
- I enjoyed the energy the defense was giving off during practice, especially when the team was able to hold the offense to a field goal attempt. One of my favorite interactions from the amped up defense was after it forced a pair of players on the left side of the offensive line into a false start penalty. To be up front, the language used was a bit NSFW.