An overview of Day 18 of Bears training camp in Bourbonnais:
1. Jordan Mills has a long way to go. But he can get there.
In his second day with the first-team offense, Mills, a fifth-round draft pick, was schooled a few times by Corey Wootton and other defensive linemen. The enthusiastic, engaging Mills generally responded well and looked like he eventually will figure it out. Even Wootton told me the kid will make it. “He did well on certain plays against me. A couple of plays I got him,’’ Wootton said. ‘‘He’s definitely talented. I think he’s going to be a great player.’’
2. The offense might be more of a work-in-progress than originally thought.
It’s early, but the offense at least appears to be regressing in terms of big plays in camp practices in recent days. Last week’s preseason opener didn’t do anything to quell fears that while Marc Trestman says he expects Jay Cutler and the offense to hit the ground running in the regular season, the NFL might say otherwise. The jumbled offensive line will have to click in a hurry to prove otherwise. As the first-team o-line is currently comprised, center Roberto Garza is the only starter who even played for the Bears last season. Garza is surrounded by Jermon Bushrod at LT, Matt Slauson at LG, rookie Kyle Long at RG and rookie Jordan Mills at RT.
3. Marquess Wilson is showing up.
The seventh-round pick from Washington seems to be getting a better shot in practice since he caught four passes for 82 yards against the Panthers in the preseason opener. At 6-4, 184 pounds, the 20-year-old Wilson has a lot of work to do. But the Bears are convinced that while they expect him to get bigger, he’s big enough now to make plays. ‘‘His physical development and maturity will continue to come because he is so young,’’ wide receivers coach Mike Groh said. ‘‘But I think if you can get open and catch the ball, that’s the main concern right now — not how much he bench presses.’’
4. Jay Cutler doesn’t look as sharp as he did earlier in camp.
It’s still early, but Cutler seems like he needs more stability than change in practice right now. And the constant state of flux because of injuries (Earl Bennett) and lineup changes (rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on the offensive line) probably isn’t doing Cutler any good. The second preseason game Thursday night against the Chargers looms larger than it should for Cutler. But its never too early to look for signs of progress.
‘‘This was a tough day,’’ Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday after practice when asked about Cutler. ‘‘He’s experienced a lot of failure in this camp because of what he’s seeing every day and all the different things we’re throwing at him. But he’s had a lot of success, too. He’s had a very efficient camp for most of it. He’s on top of it. He’s doing everything he can to get better and we’re running plays right now. As we move forward we’ll be running the plays that best suit the fronts and the coverages we’re going to see.
5. Earl Bennett, Henry Melton still out with concussions
Both players missed practice Monday and are not expected to return soon. Bennett suffered his concussion during the Bears’ Family Night Fun Fest extravaganza at Soldier Field on Aug. 3 and missed the preseason opener against the Panthers last Friday night. ‘‘He’s at home and there’s no change from [Sunday],’’ Trestman said after practice Monday. Melton suffered a concussion against the Panthers and did not attend practice Monday.
The Bears still need to develop a receiver who can replace Bennett, one of Cutler’s favorite targets. Dane Sanzenbacher filled that role when Bennett suffered an injury in 2011, but he was cut last year. Sanzenbacher, by the way, had a 36-yard touchdown catch and a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Bengals’ 34-10 rout of the Falcons last week.