Maybe after a game later this season the Bears will be able to have a collective chuckle about all the batted passes in practice Tuesday. That's if defensive tackle Henry Melton can tip a pass to himself and return it for a touchdown as he did during a team period one of four interceptions for Jay Cutler. The Bears pride themselves in having an opportunistic defense and returned eight interceptions for touchdowns last season the second-most in NFL history but only one side got a kick out of it Tuesday. Melton also deflected a ball at the line of scrimmage that fill-in nickel back Isaiah Frey intercepted and defensive end Shea McClellin made one of the most impressive plays of training camp leaping to snare an interception on a screen attempt. A miscommunication between Cutler and Brandon Marshall led to a ball sailing directly to free safety Chris Conte in 7-on-7 drills. It was the deflected balls at the line that had the offense upset. The pass rush isn't live and the Bears don't want linemen piling up around the feet of the quarterback. So the defensive linemen pull up and when they do they're not in a natural position to be knocking down balls. In a game defensive linemen wouldn't be stopping to swat balls; they would be bearing down on Cutler. On short drops the offensive linemen are not cutting the defenders allowing them to stay on their feet and jump — another thing that should not happen regularly in a game. "The rule was you are allowed to put your arms up as long as you don't jump" Melton said. "So if we get a tipped ball it's game-like. I'm going to keep doing it. (Cutler) never likes when I do it. I tell him every morning I am going to get a couple just to make him mad." Cutler was peeved after an uneven practice for the offense but McClellin's play was simply a great read by the defender and had nothing to do with any unwritten rule about linemen going for balls. "I think we need to remind them again" Cutler said. "The passing lanes … usually the linemen are not there. "A few batted balls it's frustrating offensively because it's probably not going to happen in a game but got to battle through it and we know we're going to the right guy going to the right spot just we're getting tipped here and there. Couple bad decisions but like I said it's camp and we just have to keep working on the things we're struggling with and keep doing all the good things." Said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer: "One of our rules is really don't bat a ball in practice. So guys get excited and they can't help but put their hands up and swat at them. You live with it and you go on to the next play."
Cutler, offense get batted around in practice
Chicago Tribune | Aug 7