BOURBONNAIS - Third-year wide receiver Devin Aromashodu continues to make the most of his occasional opportunities with the first team. He hauled in a pair of long-distance aerials from Jay Cutler in Monday afternoon's practice, beating cornerback Corey Graham, a nine-game starter for the Bears last season, both times.
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Aromashodu and 6-foot-3, 198-pound Brandon Rideau are challenging for spots behind starters Devin Hester and Earl Bennett.
"Devin (Aromashodu) has done a good job," coach Lovie Smith said. "Great speed, size, (he's) caught the ball well, as has Brandon Rideau. Both of those guys have great size, speed and they're making plays each day. Going into camp we were going to give some of our younger receivers an opportunity to prove what they can do. Some of the guys like (Aromashodu) are taking advantage of the situation."
Quarterback Jay Cutler has mentioned Aromashodu on several occasions.
"It definitely gives me a lot of confidence knowing that the starting quarterback, him being a Pro Bowler, he wants to see what I can do," the Auburn product said. "It definitely makes me feel good about myself. I just try to be as consistent as possible and be where you're supposed to be."
Cutler has even talked up Aromashodu to offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
"We already knew about him," Turner said. "But to have (Cutler) say that - If you're a receiver, the best thing you can have is your quarterback asking the coordinator about you. It doesn't get any better than that, right?"
Safety sleeper: Oregon State's Al Afalava wasn't drafted until the sixth round, but the 5-foot-11, 212-pound safety is already making his mark, and he took all of the first-team reps at strong safety Monday in 11-on-11 team drills.
"He's making plays," coach Lovie Smith said. "A lot of times when rookies come in, especially in the secondary, they're quiet. But he has a little bit of confidence. He talks because he knows what's going on. He has good skills, good size, good quickness, a good 40 - good raw speed. And his strong suit is hitting. That's one part we haven't gotten a chance to see, but hopefully in the game this week we'll be able to see some of our DBs tackle."
Camp Lovie: Monday's practice was the ninth straight in full pads, but Lovie Smith doesn't believe he's overworking his team.
"We don't practice twice a day," Smith said. "But most of the time when we come out, we're in pads. I just don't think one padded practice a day will hurt you that much. I haven't gotten any complaints from the guys. We'll start pulling back a little bit later, but right now we've got work to do, and everything I've asked the guys to do, they've jumped in and done."
Bumps and bruises: Linebacker Jamar Williams (shoulder) left Monday's practice early, as did tight Fontel Mines (knee).
Cornerback Zack Bowman (hamstring) long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (soreness) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) did not practice.
Hunter Hillenmeyer (calf) returned to practice and worked at middle linebacker with the second team.