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Coach calls Leno most underrated OL

Posted Aug 7, 2016

Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but veteran offensive line coach Dave Magazu is a huge fan of the 2014 seventh-round draft pick from Boise State.

Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but veteran offensive line coach Dave Magazu is a huge fan of the 2014 seventh-round draft pick from Boise State.

“Charles Leno is probably the most underrated offensive lineman in football,” Magazu said. “He comes out every day, works his tail off and he’s a student of the game.”

One of the team’s most pleasant surprises last year, Leno was inserted into the lineup early in the season after veteran Jermon Bushrod was injured and never relinquished the position. Magazu is confident that Leno will continue to develop given how eager he is to be coached.

Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. throws a block during a recent training camp practice.

“He’s willing to do anything,” Magazu said. “If you asked him to cut off his arm, I think he would. As long as guys listen and they work at it and then they have the skill set, they have a chance to become better and he’s going to keep getting better because he is athletic and he’s smart. He has some shortcomings like every guy does, but I don’t think they even near the positives.”

Quarterback Jay Cutler is also impressed with Leno, who threw a key block to spring running back Jeremy Langford on a 15-yard run during Saturday’s Family Fest practice at Soldier Field.

“He’s quiet, he’s underrated. But you put on film and every single play he’s doing his job,” Cutler said. “I think everyone’s starting to take notice of what kind of player he is and he’s going to continue to get better. He’s still a young guy.”

Turning heads: Like most others who’ve watched practice in Bourbonnais, receivers coach Curtis Johnson feels that rookie seventh-round pick Daniel Braverman has had an excellent camp.

“For a smallish guy, he’s quick,” Johnson said of the 5-10, 185-pounder. “He has phenomenal hands. He has a knack for getting open. He’s faster than you think. He’s doing a phenomenal job on punt returns. I like where he is. His college coach did a great job with him.”

Braverman ranked second in the nation last year at Western Michigan with 108 receptions for 1,367 yards and 13 touchdowns. Many draft experts projected him as a slot receiver in the NFL, but Johnson believes the young receiver is versatile enough to line up anywhere.

“I don’t think he’s just a slot guy,” Johnson said. “I don’t like to characterize guys in one particular position. I think he plays everywhere. As you see, we move guys around. He’s outside, he’s inside. I saw him catch a deep come-back the other day.”

Asked why Braverman is so self-confident, Johnson—who played receiver at Idaho—said: “All these receivers—I was one myself—they they’re the best in the world. They think they look the best. I’m ugly and I thought I looked good. So these guys are typical receivers.”

Fan of Fangio: Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, who signed with the Bears after helping the Broncos win the Super Bowl last season, has enjoyed working with veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for the first time.

“He’s a mastermind,” Trevathan said. “He likes to put you in the right situations to make plays. He has some experience with that with other linebackers and other teams. But here he’s just doing a good job of [getting a feel for] his players and knowing what they’re good at and putting you in certain situations to make plays.”

Fangio’s defense presents a difficult challenge for the Bears offense every day in practice.

“It starts with Vic, who I think is one of the best out there, a defensive coordinator maximizing his guys and putting them in the right position,” Cutler said. “Then you add the speed and some of the big guys we added up front in the front seven and I think they’re much improved from last year. They’re flying around, the intensity is there and Vic’s showing some different looks.”