It had been a long wait for the Bears free agent signees to suit up and participate in training camp for the first time, and for the eager fans to see their debut.
When they finally got their opportunity to don the pads and show what they could do, they didn’t disappoint.
Former Cowboys running back Marion Barber set the tone during run drills by running with the same power he’s displayed throughout his six-year career. When the Bears signed him, his current Bears teammate and former Cowboys teammate, Roy Williams, spoke highly of Barber’s practice habits.
“He’s going to teach these backs — even Forte, who’s still a young guy who is doing his thing — some things they probably haven’t seen before in terms of practice habits,” Williams said recently. “That power, that strength, that Monster of the Midway mentality … if he played defense, he would fit right in. He’s going to be good.”
Williams could have easily been talking about himself, at least in terms of fitting in and being good. He had a solid first practice with the team as well, hooking up with Jay Cutler on a number of passes and drawing loud applause from the fans. His big frame and athletic skills allow him to go up and get the football, which gives Cutler the type of receiver he’s been seeking since coming to Chicago, a receiver he had in Denver in Brandon Marshall.
Because Williams is familiar with the offense having excelled in it with Mike Martz in Detroit, he’s having little problems adapting to it. Instead, he can focus his attention on developing a rapport with Cutler.
“He is going to be dynamic for us,” Cutler said. “You know where he’s going to be. He knows the offense. I am excited.”
Another new Bear who showed up on his first day on the job was former Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth, who pancaked rookie safety Chris Conte. Spaeth will be counted on to be the blocking tight end that Greg Olsen was not, a player who can take on defensive ends, help protect Cutler and open up running lanes for the backs.