BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Maybe there’s room for the tight end in Mike Martz’s offense after all.
If there wasn’t before, Greg Olsen certainly made a case for heavy involvement from the position with a smashing performance in Sunday’s night workout that included six touchdowns (five during red-zone drills and one on the first play of 11-on-11 drills).
“Our red-zone package is pretty impressive,” Olsen said. “From Day 1, back at [organized team activities], when we first installed our red-zone package, I think guys got pretty excited. You get down in that area of the field, and we have to do better than last year. In the couple of days we’ve done red-zone, we’ve done pretty well.”
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw touchdown passes on each of his first five red-zone attempts.
Then, on the first play of team drills, Cutler fired a long pass down the seam for a touchdown to Olsen.
“He had a great night tonight,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “Jay threw the ball well. Offensively, we did some good things; got some good work down in the red zone.”
Once not considered a fit for Martz’s offense, Olsen said all the passes thrown his way Sunday night weren’t a product of Cutler trying to force him the ball.
“That’s just the way the balls end up going,” Olsen said. “[Cutler] is not dropping back and picking his guys. He’s following the progressions, and throwing it where it has to go. Tonight was my turn.”
Camp weather report
Temperature: 90 degrees
Heat index: 92 degrees
Camp battle focus: Receiver
Juaquin Iglesias seems worried that he could be running out of time.
Iglesias displayed that sense of urgency Sunday during the Bears’ morning workout, which was closed to the public, by spending extra time after the session working on his cardiovascular fitness. A second-year receiver, Iglesias had missed time earlier in camp with a strained quadriceps, but returned for Friday night’s workout at Solider Field.
“I haven’t been out here,” Iglesias said. “And one thing, when you have an injury on your leg, you tend to put so much attention on that part that everything else gets weaker. So I’m trying to come out here and do the best I can to get my legs strong.”
In hot competition for one of the final roster spots at receiver, Iglesias finds himself wrestling with his urge to compete, and the need to take a smart approach to handling the injury. Iglesias appears to be in competition with Rashied Davis for one of the backup roles at receiver.
Iglesias performed well during the offseason, and figures to make the roster should the team keep six receivers. If the Bears decide to go with five wideouts, the club could be choosing between Davis and Iglesias.
Iglesias made a strong case for the club to keep him with a solid practice during Sunday’s night session.
“Right now, [number] one, two and three receiver wise, we have a good idea who they’ll be,” Smith said. “But those next positions are important. We keep telling the players if you keep working hard, eventually you’re gonna get a chance to prove what you can do. Juaquin, coming back from an injury, showed up tonight and that’s what you need to do.”
Iglesias considers Saturday’s preseason game at San Diego “everything” in his attempt to secure a roster spot.
“You can do so much in practice, and it’s all good,” Iglesias said. “You can catch 100 balls in practice, but when you get out there when the lights are on, and the crowd is out there, that’s when it counts. I haven’t played in a while, after being off last season. So I’m excited to get out there.”
A third-round pick in 2009 out of Oklahoma, Iglesias didn’t catch a pass as a rookie after being inactive the first 15 games. The club activated Iglesias for the season finale against the Detroit Lions.
“It is [hard], man,” Iglesias said. “Especially with a new offense, you want to get out there. You want to go as fast as you can, but at the same time, I’ve just got to be smart. I don’t want to hurt myself and be out for the rest of training camp. I’m trying to be smart about it, but go hard at the same time.”
Smith agreed that the Bears’ injury list is growing long, but is pleased with the fact that “no one is really hurt so bad that they’re gonna be out for an extended period of time.”
Among those not participating in Sunday night’s workout: Safeties Danieal Manning and Josh Bullocks; running backs Harvey Unga (hamstring) and Brandon Minor; defensive end Mark Anderson; receivers Devin Hester (groin), Earl Bennett, and Antonio Robinson; defensive lineman Maurice Evans; defensive tackle Averell Spicer and linebacker Brian Iwuh.
As expected, rookie safety Major Wright returned to practice, and made an immediate impact. Wright snapped a string of five consecutive completions by Cutler during red-zone drills when he broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Rashied Davis.
“It felt great to be back out here doing my job,” Wright said. “It was just me playing football and going for the ball.”
Added Smith: “Before he went down with the injury, he was doing some good things, showing up. I like his energy. I like his ability to make plays on the ball. We figured he’d be a pretty good run-support player. But I like the way he’s played the pass. Good to see him back out there tonight.”
Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (knee) returned to practice Sunday night.
Garza appeared to struggle in line drills when Matt Toeaina overpowered him on consecutive plays. Smith indicated that Louis has impressed the coaching staff in the days he’s worked with the starters.
“He just needs reps, which he’s getting,” Smith said. “It’s helping him a lot, too, to go against our defensive line, which is pretty good. We’ve seen improvement in him, and he’s steadily moving up the depth chart.”
Chris Harris and Wright lined up as the starting safeties during team drills, but veteran Craig Steltz also took reps with the No. 1 unit. Steltz made the most impressive defensive play of the day when he made a leaping fingertip interception, while having the presence of mind to get his toes down in bounds.
“I like what Craig Steltz was able to do,” Smith said. “Danieal Manning is a little banged up. It’s kind of ‘next guy up’, and Craig kind of took advantage of an opportunity tonight.”