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Bears Camp Notebook: 4 Winners and 4 Losers from Saturday

The pads went on for the first time today. There were a number of performances that stood out, both good and bad.

Bears Training Camp - 7/29/2017
Andrew Link

It couldn’t have been a more picturesque day in Bourbonnais. Nary a cloud in the sky, the temperature was perfect and in the background was the familiar sounds of football pads popping.

I had a blast down at camp today. Overall, I thought the team looked pretty sharp for the first padded practice. A few overarching observations that I had:

  • The starting offense and defense both looked good. They were trading blows like a heavyweight boxing match. I look forward to seeing how this match up progresses throughout camp.
  • The defense is much, much deeper than the offense. Once the starters were gone and the second and third teams came out for team drills (7-on-7 or 11-on-11), the defense absolutely dominated.
  • It never ceases to amaze me just how large these men are up close. I am by no means a small guy, but these dudes are monsters. I will make some more comments about player size below.

The Winners

Mitch Trubisky - Let’s get the bad out of the way first. He fumbled 3 snaps and bobbled another from under center. I had about as good of a vantage point as you can possibly have for the center-quarterback exchange. +It appeared to me that Taylor Boggs was just not getting the ball all the way back to him. This will need to get cleaned up.

Now for the good. In one-on-one drills, Trubisky was the only quarterback that I could audibly hear. He seemed to have a presence and command that the others didn’t. He made a concerted effort in team drills to get through his reads and deliver the ball on-target. The only thing I saw that needed to be cleaned up was his timing. He needs to get through his progressions faster.

The arm talent though is striking. It isn’t quite Cutler-esque but he was firing laser beams all over the place. The accuracy was firmly on display. I counted 2 balls that weren’t perfect but still catchable. The future is bright, you can just sense it when you watch him.

Tarik Cohen - First off, Cohen is not as small as I would have thought. His arms and legs looked thick for his size, and he certainly did not look out of place on an NFL field. My first glimpse was of him catching punts. There may be multiple players handling these duties come the regular season, but I would expect Cohen to be one of them along with Eddie Jackson. Those two stuck out from the pack on special teams drills.

Offensively, Cohen is everything that was advertised. He is lightning-quick and routinely left defenders grasping at air, while turning a small play into a much larger one. His acceleration is jaw-dropping as well. If he is used correctly, and I suspect he will be, then this is going to be a very exciting young player to watch this season.

Adam Shaheen - When I first saw Shaheen walking along side me on his way to the field, I thought ‘wow, this dude is freaking huge!’ But I was perhaps more surprised with how big Zach Miller is. Standing next to each other, it was obvious that Shaheen was bigger, but not by the margin I had expected.

This kid is no joke though. His athleticism and hands were on full display. He made several really tough catches with defenders draped all over him. In quick-out drills, the way he turned up field versus the other tight ends was truly remarkable. He has extremely good body control for someone his size. Keep in mind that Miller wasn’t on the field much for team drills (7-on-7 or 11-on-11) but Shaheen was the starter with Sims and he was easily the most targeted player on the team today. *Shaheen also had a really nice block on Leonard Floyd.

Leonard Floyd - For those of you worried about Floyd’s weight, don’t. It was obvious that he had put on muscle. He is still a lean player, but he appears to be just a hair lighter than Willie Young is now. When he get’s that last 10 lbs or so, look out.

The defense was on the opposite field for most of the day, so the only time that I got to see them was in 11-on-11. *Floyd was beating virtually everyone in his path today. His speed is unbelievable. His newfound strength was also on display as I saw him use speed to get an angle, then convert to power as he “punched” into Charles Leno Jr., work an inside rip move and close for what would have been a sack of Mike Glennon. It was beautiful and I fully expect to see that from him on a more consistent basis.

I was really pleased to see the variety of moves. It is one thing to hear a coach talk about how hard a player has worked to get stronger and develop moves in the off-season, it is another thing entirely to see it in action.

The Losers

Mark Sanchez - This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Sanchez was all over the place today. I know that he missed some time with the knee injury but he just wasn’t accurate with his passes. When he did mange to complete a pass, it looked like he had to put his entire being into the throw to get it to a receiver 15 yards down field.

He was also very slow to make his reads and if the drills had been live, well just think about the first half of that Giants game in 2010, it was that bad. I understand what his role on the team is, but it was truly hard to watch. Trubisky should be taking the second-string snaps sooner rather than later.

Ka’Deem Carey - Carey had an awful day. The rest of the running backs (Jeremy Langford is out with an ankle injury) seemingly had some really strong showings too, so there was nobody to blame but Carey himself. Early in running back receiving drills, Carey had some drops and he appeared to slip once as well. In one-on-one blocking drills, he was absolutely abused by John Timu. That is not a good look.

When team drills came around, he was the on back on the team that couldn’t find at least a little bit of daylight. His slipping issues continued here as well as I counted 2 more slips for him. With Jordan Howard and Cohen looking like locks, and Benny Cunningham looking the part of the number two back, Carey would appear to have an uphill battle to make the roster. He needs to rebound tomorrow.

Taylor Boggs - Boggs played an awful lot of football today. He filled in for Josh Sitton, who is out on paternity leave, with the starting offense. He was also the center for the third-string and from my vantage point, +quite culpable in the poor center-quarterback exchanges with Mitch Trubisky.

It was apparent that the running game was struggling to the right side with him in the game as well. I am not sure there is much to worry about though as Boggs seems like a long shot to make the roster.

Patrick O’Donnell - “Mega punt” was anything but today. While it was quite windy during practice today, O’Donnell failed to get the ball 40 yards down field on the majority of his punts. There was also an odd “wobble” to the ball instead of the traditional “spiral.” I have to say that this is a concern for me. A specialist shouldn’t be having a day like this in camp.

I am surprised that Ryan Pace did not bring any competition for him in camp this year. I personally thought that they should have kept Tress Way, and so far, I appear to be right about that. And for those asking about Andy Phillips, the kickers did not do any sort of kicking today. The special teams portion of practice was strictly punts today.

Surprise Player

Joel Bouagnon - I will admit that I knew next to nothing about the former NIU Husky prior to the Bears signing him as an undrafted free agent this year. I was initially confused because he wears 37, which is Bryce Callahan’s number, so I had to look him up.

Bouagnon seemed to flash almost every time he touched the ball. Whether it was in passing drills, blocking drills or with the offense in team drills, he continually impressed me. This is a player to watch for in the preseason. I have a feeling he ends up on the practice squad, but would be a nice player to develop. He is thickly built and runs angry. He also seems to have very soft hands and is a stone wall as a blocker. This could be a diamond in the rough if they can find a spot for him.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow for another update as I will be attending camp again on Sunday. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, please do. I try to include as many thoughts as possible as they occur as well as what’s happening on the field. Happy camping and Bear Down!

Follow me on Twitter - @BearsLink82