• Context is the most important thing when it comes to evaluating training camp, but it often gets lost in the shuffle.
That was my biggest takeaway from Bears training camp Saturday morning as I watched the team run through routine drills before a few sessions of 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Daniel Braverman is too crafty for the Jacoby Glenns of the world to stand a chance, but does that mean he’s really standing out? He has stood out in the way that he’s caught more passes than any other player in camp, that he’s clearly better than Kieran Duncan and Derek Keaton, but the constant reports about him excelling are misleading because of who he is competing with and against.
There is an inherent problem with moving Braverman up the depth chart: Is he better than Marc Mariani? I don’t think he is and Mariani towers over Braverman (you don’t understand the size difference until you see them standing side-by-side. Mariani is significantly bigger). I expect Braverman to continue to stand out against the bottom of the depth chart guys and that should earn him a roster spot. I’d warn against anyone suggesting he’s going to earn actual playing time this season, however.
• The Bears mainstream writers and other bloggers have written extensively about how the Bears are going to have a running back by committee approach this season, but it certainly doesn’t look that way right now.
The common thought was that Ka’Deem Carey was going to get carries — even though there really wasn’t any evidence to suggest that that was going to happen. On the first day in pads, Carey was third on the depth chart and the only back outside of Langford to get any run with the first-team unit was Jacquizz Rodgers. If Rodgers continues to play like he did on Saturday, he’ll have the backup job locked up by next week.
There are a few parts to this. The first is that Rodgers looked legitimately good on Saturday. He had a few nice runs, including one against the first-team defense in which he made a great cut to get into the open field. He also stayed on the field with the second-team offense.
The next is, if they’re going to have a RBBC approach, Rodgers isn’t the kind of back who is going to get 40 percent of the carries. He’s always been a change of pace back who is solid on passing downs.
Rodgers’ gain, of course, is Carey’s loss. Carey didn’t look bad on Saturday. He had a nice run against the second-string unit in which he broke a couple tackles and got outside. He struggled badly in pass protection drills, however, where as Rodgers and Langford both looked good.
• I expected to see Leonard Floyd destroy Joe Sommers in a pass protection drill and I was disappointed. I’m not going to read too much into that, but Floyd went for a bull rush and Sommers, a UDFA from Wisconsin-Oshkosh, held him up.
I also expected Floyd to blow by Adrian Bellard, but he didn’t. He did show the athletic ability that made him the ninth overall pick when he got in Hoyer’s face on a screen pass, but the pass was completed. Floyd also held up well against the run, from what I could see. I just didn’t see the pass rush, but it was also his first practice of the summer so I’ll wait to make any judgements.
• The Bears starting offense gave up two sacks during 11-on-11 scrimmaging. The first was to Lamarr Houston, the next to Akiem Hicks (according to the Tribune as my view was blocked). I’d really need to see replays to determine who got beat on those plays, but it should be a concern for the Bears.
• Jeffery and White are just two different physical specimens. You can tell just by the way they walk that they are different from pretty much every other player on the roster.
This is the first time I’ve seen Jeffery in camp, but his route running was impressive. He turned Kyle Fuller inside out on one route and just looked as smooth and precise as I’ve seen him.
White isn’t as precise in his route running, but it doesn’t seem like he needs to be. The first play the Bears ran in 11-on-11 was a reverse toss to White in which he cut back across the field and had what would’ve been a long touchdown. He also had a nice pickup on a screen and caught just about everything thrown his way. The one exception was a miscommunication with Cutler in which White sat on a route and cut in when Cutler thought he was going to stay put.
• I spent quite a bit of time examining David Fales and concluded his arm looks stronger in person. It’s easier to judge arm strength and how quarterbacks throw the ball in person. It helps you tell the difference between a strong-armed quarterback like Derek Carr and a guy with a cannon like Cutler, as I saw in person last fall. Fales obviously doesn’t have Cutler’s arm and probably isn’t particularly close to Carr, but he was as good as anyone else on the roster. He threw tight spirals with a good amount of zip on them, but it appears Hoyer has a big lead for the backup job.
Connor Shaw was pretty far behind everyone else. While the top three on the depth chart were taking a break and speaking with quarterback’s coach Dave Ragone, Shaw was still throwing in drills.
• The Bears might have a big problem when they try to play big offensively. With Khari Lee out, their second tight end was Greg Scruggs, a defensive lineman last year. Scruggs made a nice catch when they were going half-speed early in practice, but dropped another pass and struggled in blocking drills.
The other option when they go big is with a fullback, which they did quite often on Saturday. It’ll be really hard to evaluate Paul Lasike until we get actual film on him in game action. Sommers did make a nice one-handed catch during a drill and held up against Floyd in a drill. Maybe he’s a find? But I’ll be nervous about this situation until I see it play out in actual games.
• John Timu intercepted Hoyer during seven-on-seven drills, but was roasted by Carey out of the backfield on another drill.
• Two guys started with the first-team defense who I don’t expect to be there when the regular season starts: Mitch Unrein and Sam Acho. Both are solid veterans who the Bears can rely on, but they have high draft picks at both of those positions who they need to take those jobs.