BOURBONNAIS – At the first day of training camp, defensive tackle Henry Melton said he likes to make quarterback Jay Cutler mad by batting down passes during practices.
Cutler must have been pretty ticked Tuesday during the Bears’ practice, as Melton batted a ball to himself and returned it for a score, one of three such interceptions for Cutler.
“It was luck,” Melton said. “I just put my hand up and it came to me. It was in the air forever. I just caught it and scored.”
Later in practice, Cutler attempted a throw that defensive end Shea McClellin made a spectacular play on, jumping in the passing lane and grabbing the pass and returning it for a touchdown.
During the final set of team drills, another Cutler pass was deflected at the line and intercepted by cornerback Isaiah Frey.
Cutler said the offense needs to “remind them again” when referring to the defense avoiding getting in the passing lanes.
“It’s frustrating, offensively, because it’s probably not going to happen in a game, but we’ve 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,” he said. “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.”
Trestman also doesn’t read too much into the batted balls as a reason to sound the alarms regarding the passing game.
“I don’t get caught up in it right now because the pass rushers stop because they don’t want to get in the way, and their hands go up or they jump up in the air for the ball,” he said. “We try to discourage jumping up in the air for the ball so we can complete plays and let everybody go to the ball and finish, but we allow the guys to keep their hands up.”
Defensive players are supposed to hold up their rush to avoid hitting the QB, so the passing lanes normally would be open. Still, there were more Cutler interceptions Tuesday than explosive passing plays, making it the center of attention.
M.A.S.H. unit: Defensive end Julius Peppers, who had hamstring tightness Saturday night and took Monday’s practice off, was absent Tuesday, excused for personal reasons. Running back Matt Forte took a rest day. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea returned to full-go in practice after being limited Monday with hip tightness. Receiver Earl Bennett still is being evaluated for a concussion. Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee) was out after returning to practice Monday.
Quick hits: Despite being listed seventh on the initial, unofficial depth chart, receiver Eric Weems saw plenty of action with the first team. … The biggest play of the day came on a long touchdown pass over the middle from Cutler to receiver Joe Anderson. … With Bennett absent, undrafted rookie receiver Josh Lenz took reps as the No. 2 punt returner.