Steltz, Vasher work at own pace

Reed Schreck

Rookie safety Craig Steltz just wants to play. Veteran corner Nathan Vasher is more specific.

"I want to play 16 games ... 16 games-plus, really," Vasher said.

The progress of the two secondary members will proceed along different paths through the rest of the Chicago Bears' Organized Team Activities and then training camp beginning in late July.

Steltz got a taste of what life as a starter is like by filling in for rested veteran Mike Brown on Wednesday at Halas Hall. Vasher simply is working out at a veteran's pace to regain whatever feel for the game he lost by missing most of last season due to a groin injury.

Steltz, a fourth-round selection from Louisiana State, signed a four-year deal last month. He ran drills in place of Brown at free safety.

"It's exciting to get out there and learn from guys like Mike Brown," said a constantly smiling Steltz. "He knows the ins and outs and is willing to answer any questions you might have.

"It's good, it's learning and taking steps forward" he said of running with the first team. "You're learning from guys who have been here and know the system, and help you through all the ins and outs and adjustments you have to make."

Vasher said Steltz "is doing a great job, just learning every day and continuing to get better. He'll definitely be able to contribute to us this year."

Steltz brings along a reputation as a hard hitter in college along with locks of hair resembling former Bears safety Doug Plank. Steltz's draft position might have slipped after injuring his shoulder blade in the Jan. 7 BCS championship win over Ohio State.

In OTAs, touching barely is allowed while tackling is prohibited.

"There's no contact, so you try to get in the right position and chase the ball," he said.

What has he learned?

"How fast the guys run, and not reacting but just going out there and playing," he said. "And just coming out here and being familiar with everything and playing fast.

"I'm getting better every day, whether it's one percent or better, or work on techniques and improve your game. At the end of all the OTAs, put them together and keep on working."

Vasher's just glad to be out there working out a sweat again. He was hurt in Week 3 last season and missed 11 of the final 12 games.

"Not being able to play last year is really difficult," said Vasher, who signed a five-year contract last June. "But I try not to think about that. I just try to get ready for this upcoming season.

"I'm actually ready for training camp."

He smiled when he said that, but it was obvious he meant it.

"Just being out here is a blessing," he said. "Anybody who's had an injury knows it can happen anytime whether you are in a collision with somebody or nobody touches you.

"Anytime you have a chance to get back out on the field is a blessing."

Grossman gets nod for a day

It was Rex Grossman's turn to start Wednesday, and he starred.

There wasn't much difference between Grossman and fellow quarterback Kyle Orton. But Grossman had a better completion percentage (.741 to .636), the best hookup of the day (deep to Rashied Davis over safety Brandon McGowan) and no fumbled snaps (Orton had one on the final play of goal-line offense).

Grossman completed 20-of-27 in drills ranging from 7-on-7, 11-on-11, red-zone and goal-line. Orton was 14-of-22.

Busiest receivers were Greg Olson (7 catches), Devin Hester (5), Brandon Rideau (4), Davis (4) and Marty Booker (3).

Not even Halloween

The Bears took a look at one trick play Wednesday.

Receiver Brandon Lloyd was running to his right on an end-around when he stopped and fired a 20-yard completion to Devin Hester, who did a corner route.

Where did they go?

Two prominent veterans were not on hand Wednesday -- linebacker Brian Urlacher and tight end Desmond Clark.

The OTAs are voluntary and run through June 18.

Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Reach him at 815-987-1381 or