Winners and Losers from Week 2 of Chicago Bears' Training Camp
Training camp for the Chicago Bears officially breaks on Wednesday morning as the team heads back to Chicago for their second preseason game. The team will continue their training at Halas Hall for the remainder of the preseason.
The team spent part of last week preparing for their first preseason game of the year against the Carolina Panthers and used these final few days of camp to prepare for their matchup with the San Diego Chargers this Thursday.
Week two of camp provided plenty of action with their preseason opener and here are the winners and losers from week two of training camp:
Winner: Zach Minter
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Given the rash of injuries and some depth concerns along the defensive line for the Bears, I was not surprised to see undrafted free agent Zach Minter taking some reps with the second team last Wednesday when I was at their training camp.
Minter might be the most intriguing of the undrafted rookies, as he was an under-the-radar player coming into the draft but was a two-time All-Big Sky first-team selection while at Montana State. He was not invited to the NFL combine but did participate in one of the regional combines, turning in a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash and a 34.5-inch vertical jump—which would have been good enough for the best 40-yard dash time and second-best vertical jump at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
He has good footwork and shows explosiveness off the ball. He could find himself working toward playing the 3-technique position, the same as Henry Melton.
Friday night against the Panthers, Minter played 26 snaps and recovered a fumble. In those 26 snaps he was able to show off his explosiveness and good footwork, but he was working mostly against third-stringers.
With a concussion keeping Melton on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Minter has a chance to build off of his strong training camp and make a case for making the 53-man roster.
Loser: J'Marcus Webb
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When the Chicago Bears signed veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod this offseason, many fans rejoiced at the thought of J'Marcus Webb no longer protecting Jay Cutler's blindside.
The new regime has been willing to try Webb at right tackle but he has struggled throughout camp, including giving up a sack in the first quarter of last Friday's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.
According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Webb was running with the second team offense and was replaced by rookie Jordan Mills during Sunday's practice. Biggs went on to say that the team plans on moving forward with Mills at right tackle this week at practice but it is unknown if he will start Thursday against the San Diego Chargers.
Webb has been a model of inconsistency during his career in Chicago and this past week might of been the final straw that broke the camel's back.
Winner: Jon Bostic
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A couple of weeks ago I speculated whether or not rookie linebacker Jon Bostic could have a shot at starting this season. After an injury to veteran D.J. Williams during the first few days of practice, that reality looks even closer now for Bostic.
He made one of the biggest plays for the Bears on Friday night in Carolina, snagging an interception off of Cam Newton and returning it 51 yards for a touchdown. He finished the night with 26 defensive snaps and took over play-calling duties once Lance Briggs came off of the field.
Bostic knows that there is plenty for him to still work on, telling Adam Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, "there was a lot of stuff I saw from the get-go that I have to clean up. I wasn’t perfect in any aspect. I know I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.’’
With Williams' injury still lingering, Bostic has taken full advantage of his playing time in the preseason and during camp and could find himself manning the middle of this defense on opening day.
Loser: Fendi Onobun
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A relative unknown, Fendi Onobun impressed through the team's OTAs and minicamps this offseason, according to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei and I was impressed by him the couple of times I was able to watch him at training camp.
While he looked great this offseason and during parts of training camp, he struggled Friday night against the Panthers, most notably when he let a sure touchdown slip through his hands and he struggled in both pass and run blocking.
Despite jumping around for the past three seasons, the Bears thought his 6'6", 260-pound frame was ideal for the position. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at his pro day back in 2010, which would give him elite speed considering his size, but he has failed to put it all together during training camp.
Considering that it is still up in the air who will backup Martellus Bennett, Onobun still has a chance to prove himself, but if he looks like he did Friday night, his chances may run out soon.
Winner: Michael Ford
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In his limited carries (72), he was able to show off his great speed and ability to make tacklers miss. He doesn't break a lot of tackles but displays the willingness to lower his shoulder to pick up extra yardage.
I saw him splitting carries with Armando Allen on the third team during the first full week of practice and then saw him taking most of the third team reps last week.
He took 29 offensive snaps on Friday night, running the ball six times for 15 yards and a touchdown and catching three balls for 35 yards. He showed better than expected hands, a willingness to fight for extra yards, and also returned a kick for 25 yards.
According to CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge, Armando Allen is listed as week-to-week with a hamstring injury which will likely open up more opportunities for Ford this Thursday against the Chargers.
Loser: Armando Allen
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Friday night against the Carolina Panthers, third string running back Armando Allen only saw nine snaps on offense, including just three carries for 12 yards and a fumble.
Adam Hoge of CBS Chicago reported earlier this week that Allen was week-to-week with a hamstring injury and with the relatively strong showing by Michael Ford on Saturday night, he might find himself off of the roster come September 8th.
Allen has spent parts of the last two seasons on the Bears' practice squad and 53-man roster and scored a 46-yard touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars last season for his first career score.
His injury certainly does not help his case and he will need to recover quickly if he wants a shot at making it through the team's final cuts.
Winner: Marquess Wilson
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Marquess Wilson dropped to the Bears all the way in the seventh round following his fallout at Washington State University that ultimately led to him leaving the team.
He was suspended late in the 2012 season and decided to quit the team, while ripping head coach Mike Leach on his way out the door.
Despite his character concerns, he was more than worth the risk in the seventh round for a Bears team still needing help at the position.
Between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he combined for 137 catches, 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. In nine games during the 2012 season, he had 52 catches for 813 yards and five touchdowns.
Wilson has great speed (ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the combine) and has the ability to stretch the field.
Throughout training camp he has seen time with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams, but really had a chance to shine Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.
He had a game high four catches for 82 yards and showed his ability to go deep, as well as his ability to pick up yards after the catch. His strong performance will likely help garner him some more playing time with the 2nd team against the Chargers and if he can improve on his special teams play, he could find himself in the wide receiver rotation this season.
Loser: Tress Way
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After a solid 2011 season, punter Adam Podlesh struggled at times in 2012, and the team even went as far as working out punters late in the season. They ultimately stuck with Podlesh to finish out the season.
The team signed undrafted free agent Tress Way this offseason. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis thought earlier this offseason that he had a chance to unseat Podlesh, telling the Chicago Tribune, "I view him as a competitor. He has some positive things. He has a chance."
Way had 22 of 53 punts land inside the 20-yard line last year at Oklahoma, and his gross average was 44.2 yards per punt.
Way was getting his fair share of punts throughout training camp but struggled Friday night against the Panthers. In his three attempts he averaged only 31.7 yards in comparison to Podlesh's 49.7 on three attempts.
Way's strong leg was part of the reason he was brought into camp, but if he cannot gain more yardage on his punts, his already slim chance of beating out Podlesh will get even slimmer.