Brian Urlacher made a leaping interception of a Jay Cutler pass. Julius Peppers lined up at right and left end and pressured quarterbacks several times, even knocking the ball out of Cutler’s hand once. Rookie safety Major Wright, a noted big hitter in college, had to be reminded that the Bears first minicamp practice was a non-contact affair.
In the second practice, Cutler completed a bomb to Devin Hester against the first-team defense.
“It felt good,” Peppers said. “It has been a while since we had the helmets on so getting back to football activities is a good thing.”
It was only a May minicamp, but the workouts seemed quicker and more up-tempo than training-camp and regular-season practices in the past.
“I definitely say there’s a sense of urgency,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We want to improve. Having five practices we want to get as much done when we have an opportunity to do it. We’re anxious to get to the regular season and have a chance to play Detroit.”
Tommie Harris sat out the morning workout and Pisa Tinoisamoa will not practice this afternoon as Smith tries to keep the veteran defensive tackle and linebacker healthy. Center Olin Kreutz, who is still recovering from surgery to remove a bone spur near his Achilles tendon, also did not practice. Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison was sick but could return today or Sunday. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and watched from the sideline.
It was the first time the media had seen offensive players running new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system.
“The guys are picking it up,” Smith said. “They’re excited about what we’ll be as an offensive team. You have to score points. We need to score, and score often.”
There were no big surprises in terms of the depth chart. Chris Harris and Danieal Manning lined up as the first-team safeties. Matt Forte ran with the first-team offense while Chester Taylor took snaps with the second team. Tinoisamoa was mostly on the field with entrenched starters Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Nick Roach, who was forced into the starting lineup when Tinoisamoa was injured last season, got a long look with the first team in the afternoon as Tinoisamoa watches.
Tim Jennings was the first-team cornerback while Charles Tillman worked with the second team, a likely result of Tillman not attending all the “voluntary” workouts. Tillman was back with the first team in the afternoon practice.
“Charles Tillman is one of our guys,” Smith said. “Every year I’ve been here that’s been the case and that won’t change.”
Don’t read too much into who is doing what in minicamp, however. Things can and often do change radically once the pads go on. With Kreutz out, for example, Josh Beekman played center and several players, including Johan Asiata and rookie free-agent Vince Vance, logged time at left guard.
“There’s no second or first team right now,” Smith said. “There’s a starting rotation you have based on who has been here the most right now. When some of the players haven’t been here the entire time you don’t know what kind of condition they’re in and you have to get them out here and see.”