By Adam Hoge-
LAKE FOREST (CBS) — The first player “confrontation” of the summer went down Tuesday as defensive lineman Lamarr Houston and tight end Martellus Bennett exchanged words during the Bears’ fifth of 10 OTA practices.
Generally, these things aren’t a big deal, and Tuesday’s was no exception, especially because Houston and Bennett are old friends.
“It’s nothing personal,” Houston said. “Marty is a good guy. He’s a good friend of mine. I’m going to go joke with him in there after this, so everything is all good.”
Bennett wasn’t available for comment afterward, but the whole ordeal appeared to start with right tackle Jordan Mills blocking Houston during a practice rep. Houston appeared to take exception to something — possibly Mills still blocking after the whistle — and it got more heated once Bennett got involved.
“We’re just competitive guys,” Houston said. “We like to compete and we compete to win. We’re just so competitive. We’re passionate about the game, so sometimes things get a little heated out there. That’s football. We just go back to the next play and keep working.”
And that’s exactly what happened Tuesday. Carry on.
Only two of the five OTA practices so far have been open to the media, so it’s hard to make any conclusions, but the linebacker rotations were different Tuesday than they were last week.
Part of that was because D.J. Williams was at practice after missing last week’s open session, and he was back at his familiar spot at middle linebacker. Jon Bostic — who last week filled in for Williams in the middle — shifted outside, playing both strong-side and weak-side linebacker at times. Lance Briggs only participated in the early portion of practice, so Khaseem Greene was on the field as the third linebacker the few times the Bears used their base defense instead of nickel.
Interestingly, Shea McClellin worked exclusively at middle linebacker with the second-team unit.
Again, with only a limited amount of practices open to the media, it’s hard to make any conclusions, but the Bears have said all along that they would get McClellin and Bostic work at both middle and outside linebacker, so Tuesday appeared to just be part of the bigger plan.
Motivation for Jennings
Safety M.D. Jennings is in the process of making the rare jump from the Packers to the Bears after Green Bay elected not to extend a contract offer to the restricted free agent. After assessing his options, he chose the Bears and admitted Tuesday that the rejection from the Packers has motivated him.
“Without a doubt,” Jennings said. “It’s something that puts a chip on your shoulder. Something that you’ll never forget.”
The safety made it clear that he has no ill-will toward the Packers, and he didn’t seem surprised by the lack of an offer.
“It was something I was prepared for going into free agency,” Jennings said. “It was out of my control. All I could do was go out there and put it all on the field, let the guys in the front office make the decisions. And when they decided not to bring me back, it was no hard feelings. I just look at it as one chapter closing and another beginning.”
Jennings is currently competing with rookie Brock Vereen at free safety, and they’ll both eventually be joined by Chris Conte, who is rehabbing a shoulder injury. Last week Jennings worked with the first-team unit, but Tuesday he was with the second team.
Cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff were both absent from Tuesday’s voluntary workout. Briggs and quarterback Jordan Palmer only participated in the early portion. Left guard Matt Slauson (shoulder), Conte (shoulder), safety Craig Steltz (undisclosed) and safety Sean Cattouse (undisclosed) all sat out of practice.
— Defensive tackle Nate Collins participated in his first practice Tuesday since tearing an ACL in Week 5 of last season. The Bears brought Collins back on a one-year contract this offseason despite the injury.
— Chris Williams and Eric Weems were the only two players returning punts Tuesday, so it was not surprising when the Bears announced after practice that they had added two new players to the mix. Kick returners/wide receivers Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock were signed to the 90-man roster Tuesday, with both players making a brief cameo at practice. To make room on the roster, the Bears reached an injury settlement with Domenik Hixon, who tore his ACL last week, and also waived linebacker Tana Patrick.
— Reporters aren’t allowed to quote players and coaches on things they say during practice, so let’s just put it this way: Coach Marc Trestman was VERY unhappy with the energy the offense showed in the first half of Tuesday’s practice.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.