BOURBONNAIS, Ill.–Looks like Frank Omiyale has nailed down the starting job at left guard.
That’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone. Omiyale was projected to win the job when the Bears signed him to a free-agent deal just hours into the free agency period. But Josh Beekman has performed well in camp and this wasn’t a runaway competition by any stretch of the imagination. Beekman is getting quite a bit of work now as a reserve center and he’ll fill that role nicely.
*** Two days left in camp and what a quiet camp it has been. Sounds like an oxymoron because the crowds, with the arrival of Jay Cutler, have been bigger than ever. But other than Cutler, there just hasn’t been a lot of noise. Bobby Wade got things stirred up for a few hours at the start of camp. Marcus Harrison was placed on the non-football injury list at the outset. Zack Bowman played well and then injured his hamstring. Danieal Manning has been out for some time. But there haven’t been any big stories and, you know what, that’s just the way Lovie Smith wants it to be every summer. Mission accomplished to this point.
*** Speaking of Harrison, he played more than any other interior lineman on Saturday night in Buffalo, and he played pretty well. The Bears were a little thin there with Tommie Harris sitting out and Matt Toeaina lost to a concussion during the game. Look for him to get a good look when the Giants come to town Saturday.
*** Strong safety Al Afalava had another good practice on Tuesday and it’s just clicking for him. Sometimes rookies will flash and then they plateau just as quickly. He’s still coming on and it could be interesting to see what happens when Manning returns healthy. The good thing is the Bears will have a little depth when Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman return because Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride will be in the mix.
*** The Bears have done maybe their best job in Smith’s tenure staying healthy during camp. His players have it easier than almost any in the league the way the camp is structured. When the Bears do practice twice a day–today will be one of those days–it’s a very light morning session that is heavy on teaching and light on activity. The Bears are efficient when they’re on the field for one practice a day and the workouts are generally at a high energy level. Veteran players embrace it and they self police to make sure players stay in line. They don’t want to be subjected to more two-a-days. The thinking is it’s better to have one very good practice than two average workouts. Working more isn’t necessarily working better. Now, if the team goes out Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field and lays an unprepared egg, well, you can come back and strike all of this. But you’ll never hear players complain about the program.
*** Most underrated offseason pickup? How about offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer? He’s got a ton of experience and will give the team flexibility and depth. With veteran Orlando Pace taking the practice off Tuesday, Chris Williams flipped over to left tackle to get some work there and Shaffer filled in. He’s getting solid money as a backup but it’s almost a luxury to have a guy like him as a third tackle.
*** Garrett Wolfe made a nice move with a screen pass on Monday in practice. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has been pledging there will be more work for him this season. Stay tuned.
*** Linebacker Nick Roach is dealing with his third concussion since 2004 but it’s not believed to be serious. He had one last year in preseason following the Seattle game and was dinged during practice in 2004 at Northwestern before playing Wisconsin, according to archived stories. Probably a safe bet he doesn’t get into Saturday’s game, but we’ll wait and see.
*** Punter (and sometimes kicker) Richmond McGee is the most consistent camp leg the Bears have had since Dave Toub came on board in 2004. He might just find a job somewhere in the league this season if he puts together some strong tape in the upcoming preseason games.