This round of OTAs has a different feel for Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy, as two of his most important players – wide receiver Allen Robinson and edge rusher Leonard Floyd – took to the practice field for the first time since knee injuries in 2017 put each player on injured reserve.
Nagy touched on a variety of topics during Wednesday’s press conference, which included some expanded thoughts regarding the comeback trails of Robinson and Floyd.
You can watch Nagy’s press conference embedded at the bottom of the post. But first, some highlights and some thoughts of my own.
Hooray! Allen Robinson is on the Move:
Wednesday’s participation in practice represented the first football activity Robinson has done since Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season. That is a span of 262 days without doing football things, if you’re keeping track at home. For Nagy and the rest of the offense, Robinson’s mere presence on the field was a victory of sorts.
“It’s really good to see him out there. He didn’t do enough to say what he did one way or the other, but it’s a positive sign when he’s out there and he’s able to run some plays. And just for his mindset, kind of get out there. I think that’s one of the biggest things. When you go through an injury like that … it can be one where physically you’re good to go or you feel really strong, but you still got to get by that mindset of that, so it’s going to be a day-by-day process for him. But to have him out there, I know it felt good for the offense and that was good.”
Robinson Wasn’t the Only Receiver on Nagy’s Mind on Wednesday:
It’s easy for Taylor Gabriel to get lost in the shuffle. And no, that wasn’t a short joke. With Robinson representing the major free agent splash and Anthony Miller sliding in as the hot-shot draft pick, Gabriel can become a forgotten man … but that shouldn’t be the case. Nagy shared some positive thoughts on what Gabriel was bringing to the practice field as he is embracing his role as a student of this offense.
“Taylor’s a kid that everyone puts that whole little gadget thing to his name into how he plays the game because he’s not very big, but he’s super fast. He’s a wide receiver that is learning each and every day how to play wide receiver in this offense. Now with that said, he’s able to do a lot of the things that we’ve done in the past with jet motions and get the ball to him quick on screens and some of the RPO stuff, but for him, i’m happy with what he’s done so far is that he’s taken to the teaching that we’re giving him. This isn’t something where he’s coming and just trying to do his own thing at all. He’s coming in and he’s listening to how we’re teaching and he’s trying to get better every day.”
Some Love for Jordan Howard:
With trade rumors being a distant memory at this point, we can now fully focus on what Howard’s role will be on the Bears moving forward. Nagy issued some honest analysis regarding what he was seeing out of Howard, noting how difficult it was to break down a player like Howard at this point of OTAs.
“As a player, it’s hard because this is really essentially a passing camp. Until you get the pads on and you can see really how much he’s going to get the ball, there’s just so many – it’s probably the ratio is probably 4-to-1 of pass to run in practice, so he’s not getting a whole lot of reps with the ball in his hands. But really he’s one of the sharpest guys on the team in regards to knowing his assignments. I’ll pick on him now and then in the meeting room and he always has the right answer. I think he’s everything that I thought he was. And again, when we get to training camp and put the pads on, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
So What Does Howard’s Role Look Like Anyway?
Once we reach that point where training camp gets underway and players start wearing pads, we’ll get a better idea of what Howard will look like in an offense that can’t be described as predictable or boring as the one that came before it. So where will Howard fit? Nagy continued with his vision on the backfield.
“You want to be able to have multi-dimensional backs. When you have a multitude of guys that can do those things, one of the things I believe in is trying to really hone in on what their weaknesses are and what we perceive their weaknesses to be for each player and then try to work on that right now in the offseason. We all know he can run the football, so he fits well in this offense.”
Leonard Floyd is Actually Ahead of Allen Robinson in the Rehab Process:
If Robinson was “ahead of the game” in his rehab process, then what does it make Floyd – who Nagy said is doing more than Robinson at this point? To me, this might be the best news to come out of Wednesday’s press conference. If Robinson is progressing well and Floyd is ahead of that, it should be taken as a sign that good things are on the horizon for two of the Bears’ most important players.
“He’s doing more each day. He’s very similar to Allen and he’s doing a little bit more than Allen right now, but he’s happy with his progress, we’re happy with his progress, and again, those are two important roles on this team that we feel really good that by training camp we will be rocking and rolling.”
Practice Will Have a Different Look This Week:
Nagy insists the players are looking good and feeling god during OTAs, but noted to the assembled media at Halas Hall that things might not look like what they are used to. Nagy explained that both the offense and defense were working through carded periods were certain scenarios were scripted out. Let’s just let the coach sort things out and discuss why he is doing this and what he expects to come from it:
“The defense has some carded periods, the offense has some carded periods. So there might be some plays where you think somebody makes a bad throw or a bad read, but some of this stuff is carded so the guys can make some plays and get some looks on different teams. But the guys are doing really well. They’re improving each and every day. We’re working through some situational football, which is important and is going to win us games as we go here and they understand that it’s to their credit, so we just keep improving every day.”
Nagy’s full press conference: