Bears OTA Notebook: June 11

Bears stretching prior to their OTA practice at the Walter Payton Center on June 11. - H. Rick Bamman / hbamman@shawmedia.com

LAKE FOREST — All of the healthy Bears players were present for Wednesday's OTA practice, which was held inside at the Walter Payton Center.

Craig Steltz and Matt Slauson are still being held out of drills, and Chris Conte — who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery — was not at practice.

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who played for Marc Trestman in Cleveland, was a guest at practice and working with the Bears' QBs, and he talked about what he has seen from Bears' head coach.

“To see him here and how comfortable he is and the level of respect he commands in two years [is impressive],” Kosar said. “You can see the comradery and the family type atmosphere they have here within the building and within the team. It’s really impressive to watch.”

The following are observations from our Chicago Football staff at the final OTA open to the media before next week's mandatory veteran minicamp:

Arthur Arkush

• Tim Jennings made an outstanding play over Alshon Jeffery in the left corner of the end zone in 11-on-11's, timing his jump perfectly to impressively break up a Jay Cutler jump ball intended for Jeffery, who stands over half a foot taller than Jennings. 

• With Chris Williams in attendance but not practicing, we received an extended look at new punt returners Micheal Spurlock and Armanti Edwards. Spurlock, who worked with the first team, looked natural fielding punts and even had a nice catch during 11-on-11's.

• Jared Allen had a strong day against Jermon Bushrod, making his presence felt in the backfield at least twice during team drills, including a batted ball and what would have been a bone-jarring hit on the quarterback if these were contact drills.

• Jay Cutler was virtually automatic in red zone drills, spreading the ball around and completing three consecutive touchdowns at one point. Brandon Marshall had two early drops but shook them off - after dropping to the ground inside the Payton Center for pushups - to make a number of tough catches.

Kevin Fishbain

• Rookie Brock Vereen continued his work with the first-team safeties. We've been at three OTAs, and he's been back there with Ryan Mundy in the last two. Even if Vereen isn't starting Week One at safety, which is very much a possibility, the reps are important for him in the long-term.

• Jon Bostic, not D.J. Williams, joined Lance Briggs in the Bears' first-team nickel. It shouldn't be considered a huge deal, as James Anderson was the nickel linebacker over Williams last season (and it's only June 11). For a young player like Bostic, the first-team nickel reps are important, as down the line, if not this year, he is supposed to be an every-down linebacker. In the starting base defense, Shea McClellin got most of the reps 'Sam' linebacker with Briggs and Williams. 

• One tweak to the team drills in practice was the Bears had two groups of 11-on-11's going on at once, a great strategy to continue to give reps out, especially for the backup quarterbacks as well as the younger players. Jerrod Johnson got the reps with the No. 2 offense today, as Jordan Palmer has been out with a strained pec.

• A small personnel nugget: seventh-round rookie Charles Leno Jr. was getting reps as the No. 2 left tackle. That's a competition to keep an eye on that will also involve Joe Long throughout the summer.

Jeff Arnold

• A goal-line drill run with the first-team offense turned into an 'Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better' moment - at least when it came to post-play celebrations. Brandon Marshall was the first participant, relishing in an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone on a crisp throw from Cutler. Not to be outdone, though, linebacker Lance Briggs offered up a short celebration dance after picking Cutler off a deflection. For my money, Briggs won on style points alone.

• Cornerback Tim Jennings made perhaps one of the day's better defensive plays, breaking up a Cutler pass on a deep route intended for Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery appeared to be in position for the kind of athletic catch in the corner of the end zone he became famous for last year before Jennings closed in and knocked the pass attempt away at the last second.

• As opposed to last week when Martellus Bennett and Lamarr Houston got into a extra curricular scrape, Wednesday's two-hour practice was stress-free and seemed to be even a little more light-hearted than when we last saw the Bears in OTA drills. Perhaps, that was a result of a team bowling outing that took place on Tuesday, creating a bit of team cohesion before the Bears manditory mini-camp begins next Tuesday. 

Nate Atkins

• After apparently working more with tight ends at last week's media-open OTA practice, Cutler got back into a groove with his wide receivers today. The most impressive connection came with Marquess Wilson on a deep post route in which Wilson barely outstrided a defender and dived to the turf to haul it in. As we wrote last week, Wilson spent more of his rookie season learning from Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery than actually playing, so the chance to work first-hand with Cutler -- specifically in a slot role -- seems to be paying off.

• With so much focus on Jimmy Clausen, Jerrod Johnson did his best to hold up his end of the backup quarterback competition. Johnson scrambled for a touchdown in the red-zone sequence, showcasing a bit of the mobility teams often value in backup quarterbacks. He also ended the practice with a beauty of a flag lob that fell right into the receiver's hands before the whistles sounded.

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