Over 10,000 loyal Chicago Bears fans showed up for the Bears' Saturday night practice, the first one in pads. They likely showed up in such vast numbers for one reason, to see Jay Cutler throw the ball to Brandon Marshall.
They were not disappointed as Cutler and Marshall put on a show that likely has never been seen before by Bears fans. The simple reality is Cutler and Marshall represent the best QB and receiver duo in the history of the franchise. Tonight they played like it, with Marshall snagging many deep passes from Cutler, and a couple of one-handed grabs for good measure.
With each big catch the crowd roared it's approval endearing themselves to a combination that could lead the Bears to the Super Bowl.
The attention also turned to the rookies and how they would perform in their first day in practice. Rookie tight end Evan Rodriguez struggled during OTAs and minicamp but has had a strong training camp for three straight practices.
Rodriguez can get down the field and has proven to be the match up problem GM Phil Emery drafted him to be. He has shown solid hands catching everything thrown his way. With the two TE set the Bears plan on utilizing this year Rodriguez could definitely push for a lot playing time this year if he keeps up his current pace.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice is himself a former TE at the NFL level who knows how to get the most out of the TE position. Rodriguez's quick emergence and consistency likely means an end to fullback Tyler Clutts' tenure with the Bears.
Switching gears to defense, Shea McClellin showed off some solid speed in pass rushing drills. His speed off the edge is evident to every one in attendance and he made got some pass deflections in coverage.
He showed off a couple of counter moves to go with his ability to get under the outside arm of the OT and turn the corner.
Second year safety Chris Conte was a little banged up, but returned to practice. In his absence rookie Brandon Hardin got his first action with the starters.
Kellen Davis is quietly putting together a solid camp, I'm really excited to see him live up to his potential this season.
Alshon Jeffery continues to impress during camp getting his first opportunity to run with the starters today in Devin Hester's absence. The guess here is Jeffery overtakes Hester sooner rather than later. No matter how good Hester looks in camp, no matter how much he receives praise from the coaching staff the fact of the matter is the NFL is a physical game. Alshon Jeffery can win the physical game, while Devin Hester cannot, never has.
Jeffery will overtake Hester because of that physical ability and there is likely nothing Hester can do as a result of his own shortcoming.