An overview of Day 11 of Bears training camp in Bourbonnais:
1. Defense responds with four picks of Jay Cutler.
The Bears’ offense had been making steady progress and more big plays in recent practices, but the defense struck back Tuesday with four interceptions, including returned for mythical touchdowns: Henry Melton batted a pass in the air and picked it off; Shea McClellin leaped to grab a Cutler pass and took that to the house. Safety Chris Conte and nickelback Isaiah Frey had the other interceptions. Not Cutler’s best day by any stretch, but not a big deal in the big picture of training camp. That it’s going back-and-forth usually is a good sign for an NFL team. That’s the way it should go in a zero-sum game like training camp.
2. Wide receiver Joe Anderson steps up again.
With Earl Bennett still being evaluated for a concussion, second-year wide receiver Joe Anderson made an impact with the first-team offense, getting behind the secondary to catch a bomb from Jay Cutler in stride for a long touchdown. Anderson made the practice squad as an undrafted free agent last season and was promoted to the 53-man roster late in the season and played well on special teams in the final three games of the season. Anderson is only 6-1, but he’s strong and tough and has a 42-inch vertical leap. Most importantly, Cutler seems to like him, which makes all the difference. If Bennett is out for any length of time, Anderson figures to get the first shot at the third-receiver spot.
3. Injury situation stabilizing.
The Bears seemed to be losing a player a day for awhile, but there were no new injured players at Tuesday’s practice. Running back Matt Forte was given a rest day, but appeared to be fine. Julius Peppers was ‘‘excused’’ according to a Bears source. Bennett still is being evaluated for a concussion. Linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), nickelback Kelvin Hayden (left hamstring stain) and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee) did not practice.
With Forte out, Michael Bush and Armando Allen got the bulk of the running back duty in practice.
‘‘I thought they got some good work,’’ Trestman said, ‘‘with change of speed with a downhill runner like Michael and being able to catch the ball outside, and then Armando at the point of attack and outside as well. I thought our run period was really strong today.’’
4. Offensive line still a fluid situation.
For now, we’re going to have to trust that Trestman and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer know what they’re doing, because the jumbling of the offensive line even this far into camp would normally be unsettling. While Jermon Bushrod was available for drills, Eben Britton took most of the first-team snaps at left tackle. James Brown and rookie Kyle Long still are sharing first-team reps at right guard.
‘‘It’s really important that the offensive line moves around,’’ Kromer said. ‘‘Training camp is the time to get them playing multiple positions because you don’t want Week 5 to be the first time somebody jumps into right guard or left guard. Training camp is the time to move them around, get them a feel, understand the concepts of the plays and let them become [acclimated] while really trying to stick to a position they’re going to be comfortable at.’’
5. Robbie Gould is in mid-season form.
There was some trepidation about place-kicker Robbie Gould coming into camp, because the veteran missed the final three games of last season with a ruptured tendon in his left (non-kicking) leg. The Bears signed Austin Signor prior to training camp, but he was cut last week — a sign the Bears are comfortable with Gould’s recovery. He’s been solid since camp began and appeared to be perfect in Tuesday’s practices, though he did not attempt a kick longer than 45 yards. Still, he has looked strong enough that it does not appear Gould’s kicking has been affected by the surgery. With Joe DeCamillis replacing Dave Toub, the Bears special teams in general look like they’re in good shape.