Not quite as exciting as the NFL's season opener but the opening of NFL training camps helps hold us over until the season begins.
I had the pleasure of taking in this afternoon’s first practice of training camp and although the players were not in pads and were mostly going through drills, there are still a lot of things I was able to observe from today’s practice:
The offensive line’s first team saw J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams splitting time at the left tackle position, with Chris Spencer at left guard, Roberto Garza at center, Lance Louis at right guard and Gabe Carimi at right tackle.
The biggest question mark coming in to the season is the production of the offensive line. Webb and Williams seems to be the only position battle on the line as the other four seem to have their positions locked down.
Most notable of the offensive lineman was Carimi, who appears to have shed some weight during the offseason and looks much leaner than he did last season. Carimi was wearing a brace on his right knee, but appeared to not be suffering any affects from the knee injury that ended his rookie season.
Injured wide receiver Johnny Knox spent much of his time wandering around during warm-ups and observing wide receiver drills. Knox looks noticeably thinner and appears to have lost a lot of muscle mass from the terrible back injury suffered near the end of last season. Just based on his appearance from afar, I would doubt Knox will get on the field this season.
The best match-up to watch all day was between new wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Charles Tillman.
Today was the tip of the iceberg on what should be an exciting day-to-day match-up between these two Pro Bowl caliber players. Tillman did a nice job being physical with Marshall at the line and both had their share of nice plays. Pitting two of the best at their positions up against each other will only help to improve both of their games.
Alshon Jeffery surprised me with not only his height but his bulk.
A knock on Jeffery coming in to the draft was his weight, but personally, he looked more muscular than anything. Jeffery appeared to catch every ball that was thrown his way today and appeared to be more physical than I had expected.
First rounder Shea McClellin saw most of his reps with the second team defense and also spent time on the punt block unit.
Some of the bigger news of the day was the Bears acquisition of former second round pick, DT Brian Price. The Bears have a lack of talent at the position behind Melton, Matt Toeina and Stephen Paea. Price is the worth the risk of a seventh round pick.
Bears General Manager Phil Emery was quoted as saying, “He is a penetration, explosive, get off the mark, get into gaps and cause disruption-type player,” which fits the bill perfectly for a Bears defensive tackle.
The first practice of camp is never the most exciting, but it offers a window in to what these players are going to be working on these next weeks. Once the pads come on, camp will take a much different turn and the real battles will begin.