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Holmes: Thoughts And Observations From Bears Mini-Camp

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Devin Hester. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Devin Hester. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Laurence Holmes Laurence Holmes
Laurence Holmes joined 670 The Score in 1998 as a part-time producer...
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By Laurence Holmes-

HALAS HALL (CBS) As Lovie Smith says, mini-camp is the end of the Bears offseason. It’s three days where the foundation is laid and the scene is set for Bourbonnais. Here are things I saw, things I heard and things I was told today.

-Brian Urlacher’s left knee still isn’t 100%. He didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice. He did do conditioning and rehab work on the side. He did some sprinting and in straight-line running (with a brace on), he’s moving pretty good. No need to worry. It’s not as if a veteran as prepared as Urlacher needs it, but it does show you how serious his injury was.

-Alshon Jeffrey missed practice too with what Lovie Smith called “a lower leg injury”. Apparently the Bears Head Coach has been watching a lot of hockey lately.

-During full-team practice the Bears ran a set of plays where Jay Cutler audibled. Some were successful, some were not, but it’s clear that Cutler enjoys the fact that he at least has the option to change a play if he sees something he doesn’t like.

“Yeah we’re looking at some stuff…if we’re gonna look at stuff now is the time to look at it and see if we like it and throw some stuff at the defense and throw some stuff at the wall and if it sticks we’ll keep it and if not, we’ll just keep moving on,” Cutler said.

-All offseason I’ve been hearing how Devin Hester isn’t going to be returning kicks since the Bears added Eric Weems and Devin Thomas. Dave Toub has always denied this and it looks like he was telling the truth. At this stage, Hester is still the first team kick returner and took the first team reps.

-Gabe Carimi got the work at right tackle with Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb splitting reps at left tackle. When it comes to offensive line play in June, Mike Tice said it best: “You’re not going to tell anything about your linemen until we put the pads on…”

-It was interesting to watch the receiving corps huddle around Jay Cutler when the first team was done with their reps. There’s a lot of communication going on on the sideline. I was intrigued with how often Brandon Marshall moves around throughout the practice. The Bears used him on both the right side and the left and in both slot positions. I asked Marshall about it and he told me that along with him making big catches and big plays, he also has a responsibility to be a decoy to open up things for the other receivers.

“When you have a guy that teams try to take out of games, you see other guys get open. So great offensive coordinators know how to use guys to open other guys up. That’s the biggest thing with me, also understanding I’m just pulling coverage,” Marshall said.

-Bears President Ted Phillips watched the entire practice from a rooftop deck.

-Johnny Knox is still rehabbing and helping in the organization of practice. He’s still a long way from seeing the field.

-I was told today that the HBO folks didn’t even approach the Bears about Hard Knocks. Smith does not want the inner-workings of the Bears on display for the league to know. Which is understandable. The interesting part is that the Bears have produced a mini-version of Hard Knocks for ChicagoBears.com. It’s called “Inside Rookie Mini-Camp” and will have four installments starting next Monday.

-Ran into new GM Phil Emery on his way to watch practice. Strangley, we talked baseball…Emery and the Bears personnel department, took in the White Sox game on Saturday. I asked him if he ever scouted baseball, to which he said no, but he did talk about the size of the guys in the Sox lineup. Particularly Konerko & Dunn. When I told him about Dunn playing QB at Texas, he quickly gave me some background on Dunn’s football career. Always the scout…He did tell me that he marveled at watching Chris Sale be able to do what he does considering his frame.

Nugget: Last month I saw Marshall at the Mayweather fight, so I know he’s a big fight fan. I asked him about the Pacquiao/Bradley fight which he watched on Pay-Per-View.

“Investigation man! You gotta investigate that. I couldn’t believe it. That was a tough call,” Marshall said.

Tidbit: Of the quarterbacks likely to make the team — Cutler, Jason Campbell, Josh McCown and/or Nathan Enderle — Cutler is the shortest at 6-3.

We aren’t allowed to tweet from practice, but if you wanna follow me on Twitter, @LaurenceWHolmes is where you can find me.

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