From various reports today, but primarily from ESPN 1000 Bears beat writer Jeff Dickerson I was able to gather information from today’s organized team activities.
These OTAs as they are more commonly known are usually informal, voluntary workouts and practices that go on during the off-season. The workouts consist of your typical, basic fundamental and again HEAVY on the informal aspects of drills and practicing.
Today was the first time the media was allowed access to these OTAs and there were some news and notes to pass along.
Most notably was Tommie Harris did not participate in any of the drills or stretch and was not in action. This seems to be a recurring theme with Harris since his hamstring problem from the 2006 season. Harris has not been a 100-percent participant in any aspect of practice, workouts, mini-camps or OTAs. He usually rests for some and in some cases, ALL of the workouts.
Sure everyone can say don’t look into this, don’t read to much into it, or make any assumptions based on such an informal level of workouts.
Problem is this seems to be consistent for a player like Tommie Harris. This all seems to be related to his injury concerns and, or knee problems that seem to continually keep him on the side line.
In order to take the next step in his development and become the player the Bears are paying him to be, you’d like to see more consistent participation. Warren Sapp was quoted as saying that Harris could be one of the most dominant DTs in the league and we’ll see what type of player he can be now that Rod Marinelli is in the fold.
But you just don’t see the consistency in his work habits to say emphatically he will be a force on the D-Line for the next eight or nine years. I think it’s safe to say that bus has passed Tommie Harris by and it’s better to just thing of him as an important cog in the defense, but not the game changer he was in 2005 and for part of the 2006 season.
Also held out of workouts were Charles Tillman who seems to be consistently in the same boat as Tommie Harris. He’s just a constant injury concern and is never playing or practicing at a level he once did.
Marcus Harrison was also held out today from OTAs. With that news Israel Idonije practiced today at the DT position. Of course consistent reports have been that Idonije will primarily be focusing on the DE position this year. That said, the Bears will always utilize the versatility he offers by being able to play either position.
Corey Graham today took reps with the second team today at safety. An intriguing development given that Graham has been one of the most consistent players at CB. With Graham working at safety, Zachary Bowman was lined up with the first team at CB. The secondary was made up of newly acquired Josh Bullocks, Kevin Payne and Craig Steltz.
Steltz has been talked about by the coaching staff as the likely player who will be starting at free safety this year. Steltz at times looked shaky last season, but has the full confidence of the coaching staff.
Pro Football Weekly reported that CB Roderick Hood of the Arizona Cardinals is coming to visit Halas Hall next week. Hood may not be a big name free agent, but he does have a solid resume and veteran experience playing in the NFL.
On offense Jay Cutler did as he promised he would do when he came, that is re-establish his relationship with Earl Bennett. Bennett and Cutler played together at Vanderbilt and the chemistry paid off today with Bennett catching a lot of passes from Cutler.
Cutler as expected looked very sharp on every ball he through. It’s going to take a while for local Bears fans and media alike to get used to having a QB who has a strong, sharp and accurate arm. We know Cutler will look better than any QB who has ever walked the a hallowed grounds of Soldier Field. But reality still hasn’t set in for most of us, that yes the Bears have a franchise quarterback.
Josh Beekman still has a lock on the first team left guard position. Beekman is ahead of Frank Omiyale at this point, but it may not last until opening day. Omiyale will have to win the position, he won’t simply just be given the right to start.
On the injury concern flip side LT Orlando Pace was out there today and looked healthy and sharp. Pace is a grizzled veteran who sets the tone for any of the young rookies or younger players. Pace may miss some OTAs (Love Smith is known to rest veterans) or he may be out there every day to make it a point that he’s healthy and ready to go.
Chris Williams as was reported early after the Orlando Pace signing was indeed working with the offense as the first team right tackle. Backing him up was newly signed Kevin Shaffer. Shaffer is a classy guy with a solid veteran background who should not only push Williams but also be a mentor.
At strong side linebacker both Joey LaRocque and Hunter Hillenmeyer were held out today. Also free agent Pisa Tinoisamoa was out there today to watch practice. There is a strong possibility that Tinoisamoa signs with the Bears. At 6-foot-1 240-pounds he represents a stouter and possibly stronger option at the SAM ‘backer position. Still he’s not the ideal candidate out there to be a starter.
Overall the day went about as well as could have been expected. It is nice to have media coverage to these events. All this action should help ease the lull of the next month and a half leading up to two a days down in Bourbannais.
Tags: 2009 NFL, Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bears free agency, Chicago Sports, Chris Williams, Corey Graham, Craig Steltz, football, Frank Omiyale, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Jay Cutler, Joey Laroque, Josh Beekman, Kevin Payne, Kevin Shaffer, Marcus Harrison, NFL, Orlando Pace, OTA workout report, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Rod Marinelli, Sports, Tommie Harris, Zachary Bowman