BOURBONNAIS, Ill.–Training camp is more than half complete now and the Bears will release their first depth chart of the summer on Monday.
No bombshells are expected on there, but it’s always interesting to get a look at how the coaching staff is stacking up the different positions. Remember, it can change quickly once the live action begins Saturday at Buffalo with the preseason opener.
The one position that is drawing maybe the most scrutiny right now is left guard where Frank Omiyale finally got his first reps with the starters on Saturday at Soldier Field. Josh Beekman, the incumbent, has been holding down the job. Smith was asked if Beekman’s control on the spot during the vast majority of camp was because of something Beekman is doing, something Omiyale is not doing or just part of the plan.
“I would say it’s the plan,” Smith said. “You can’t start moving guys around. We have done very little live, I’m talking about finishing plays and things like that. Both guys are getting good work right now and we’ll let it play out. Once we start playing preseason games, to me that is when you get a legitimate depth chart. Until then, we’re just working the guys in and going from there.”
*** Smith said that defensive tackle Tommie Harris will be practicing Monday when the team gets on the field at noon. Harris sat out Saturday’s practice and was worked very little last week. Don’t count on Harris to be on the field Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Smith has been hesitant to use Harris on artificial surfaces in preseason in the past. The Bills play on an AstroPlay field.
*** NFL officials, led by Chicago area native Tony Michalek, were in training camp last week. They were there to review some of the rules changes for the coming season, and the biggest ones are being made on special teams. Three- and four-man wedges on kickoff returns have been outlawed. Kicking teams can no longer bunch all of their players in the middle of the field. They have explained the Tom Brady rule where defenders cannot lunge at the quarterback and hit him with their helmet or shoulder or arm. How about this one? Officials say they are going to start cracking down on offensive pass interference. Score one for the cornerbacks.
*** Smith said Saturday that he was pleased with the development of the safeties but wants to see more from the cornerbacks. What does he expect? Top cornerback Charles Tillman is out while he recovers from back surgery. The star of the offseason and first week of camp Zack Bowman is working his way back from a hamstring injury and did a little light work on the side Saturday. I wrote it when the news broke in the Chicago Tribune that Tillman would be out with back surgery–the Bears may regret kicking the tires on Ken Lucas and Rod Hood and not doing any more than that. One more cornerback injury and then how is Smith going to feel?
*** One friend in Denver told me that the booing of Kyle Orton last Thursday at Invesco Field was overblown. The crowd did really give it to kicker Matt Prater.