LAKE FOREST — When the Bears practice inside the Walter Payton Center, as they did during Wednesday’s minicamp, often one will hear a loud ‘thud’ and a football raining down from the top of the dome.
If we’re to judge the punting battle between Patrick O’Donnell and Tress Way solely on punts that hit the ceiling, well, it’s hard to tell who has the lead. When a returner is on the field, an assistant will toss him a ball to start the return.
Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis reassured us following practice that it is a good thing when the punts get impeded by the dome.
“Obviously that’s something that’s good, by the way. If it hits the roof in there, that means they are hanging the ball,” he said. “If they don’t hit the roof that’s usually not a good thing because that means it’s coming right back at you in the return form. I’m glad that it’s hitting the roof, let’s just say that.”
The punters have gotten outside plenty to get a better gauge on their kicks, DeCamillis said, but the coaches can also see it indoors, too.
“But you can evaluate also there because you can film it and see a tight-line shot of them and see exactly what their strengths and their weaknesses are as far as their drop, as far as their catch of the ball, everything that comes into play. So we can get a lot of work done in there, but obviously outside is better than inside for us right now.”
As for the competition itself between the sixth-rounder O’Donnell and Way, who was cut during last year’s camp, DeCamillis said that Way has turned it on since the draft.
“I think it’s going to be a heck of a competition. I think when we drafted Pat, for whatever reason, Tress really picked his business up,” DeCamillis said. “He’s really punted well and it’s going to be a heck of a competition.”
Shea on special teams: All the talk is centered around Shea McClellin’s shift to linebacker, but that position change also means more special teams duty than he’s accustomed to, something DeCamillis addressed.
“So far, it’s been very positive. He’s moved around really well,” he said. “He didn’t play a lot of special teams here in the last few years because of his role as a defensive lineman, so it’s something new for him, but he’s really adjusted well. His drill work has gotten better every week and I think he’s on the right track.”
Allen impressed by CBs: Many of the defensive players have discussed their positive impressions of playing with an All Pro like Jared Allen, but the veteran has been in awe of a couple of his new teammates.
“I can’t remember the last time I played with two Pro Bowl cornerbacks. I had Antoine (Winfield) in Minnesota, but the last time I had two Pro Bowl corners was Patrick Surtain and Ty Law way back in Kansas City,” he said. “It’s just getting that energy of that we have a good offense, now imagine if we had a good defense. Playing defense with a lead is a blast.”
Attendance report: Khaseem Greene returned to practice, while Chris Conte and Will Sutton remained absent for family reasons. Jordan Mills, Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery did not participate in team drills. Marc Trestman said he gave some veterans a rest to allow younger players fighting for roster spots more opportunities for reps.
Returned for six: Two drops on offense led to picks for the defense — undrafted rookie corner Al Louis-Jean got a pick-six off a Fendi Onobun drop and Demontre Hurst intercepted a pass that was tipped, then went in and out of Micheal Spurlock’s hands.
Play of the day: Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall down the sideline in 7-on-7’s with Charles Tillman in perfect coverage for a 30-plus yard gain.