A word to the wise: If you’re willing to be out in the sun for 2 hours of Bears practice, make sure to be hydrated and to wear sunscreen. Even when temperatures aren’t high, that sun can be unforgiving if you’re just standing there and soaking it in without shade. The players take water breaks, so there is no shame in having a bottle of H2O at the ready.
- We often think about this Bears season as one that starts a rebuilding process as we step away from the ashes of the old regime. But sometimes, what gets lost in the sauce is that this new regime also has to rebuild a bridge connecting with the fans. Because it wasn’t just Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy who Bears fans were at odds with at the end of their run. People became disenchanted with Bears football as a whole at the end of that run. Rebuilds aren’t just about putting good players on the field and making that climb to the top. There is also an aspect of trust that needs to be rebuilt among fans. No, it won’t happen overnight. But Head Coach Matt Eberflus getting on the mic, breaking that third wall, and reaching out was a nice touch on his part.
- Don’t get it twisted. It wasn’t some awe-inspiring speech that would’ve had me running through walls. He didn’t drop knowledge on fans in attendance. And he certainly didn’t give up any details regarding players on the sideline due to injuries. But I feel like it took some gumption for Eberflus to get on the mic and offer up a “welcome back” to football. Nagy might’ve been booed to the heavens had he tried it last year.
- What is becoming a common thread early in camp is a willingness for players who were on last year’s team speaking freely about the distinct differences between this year’s coaching staff and last year’s group. This quote from Khalil Herbert (via NBC Sports Chicago’s Alex Shapiro) speaks volumes:
“The way they teach us, and the way the break things down and go through stuff, and draw things out, it’s next level. I love this staff and how they teach us and how they bring these concepts in and show us how it’s done.”
- This might seem like small potatoes, but it isn’t. A coaching staff’s ability to reach players and get the most out of them helps take them (and the teams they play for) to another gear. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a players game. X’s and O’s are important, but Jimmy’s and Joe’s are the difference-makers. That Herbert is seeing such a stark difference in coaching staffs and relaying it publicly says so much about where the Bears were last year. Hopefully, the result of these coaches helping players in ways they weren’t getting last year leads to better days ahead.
- I’ve got a feeling we’ll see a bunch of this sentiment as the year goes on:
- Part of me is happy for Allen Robinson II getting an opportunity to strut his stuff with a head coach/play-caller/system that allows him to shine. But part of me will hurt knowing that the Bears could’ve been that team giving him this opportunity had things been handled with care in Chicago. As we were alluding to earlier in Bullets, the ability for the front office and/or coaches to connect with players can be more valuable than we might otherwise think.
- On the one hand, it’s just training camp practice. And it’s probably too early to feel too strongly about any particular prospect one way or another. But my gut tells me the Bears might regret passing on George Pickens, especially if they don’t bolster that receivers room in the coming years:
- There was really good reason to be into Pickens ahead of last April’s draft. Especially since there was ample buzz connecting him with the Bears. The fit seemed perfect. And while some concerns popped up late in April, that chatter feels like a distant memory right now. Did we witness pre-draft subterfuge when it came to Pickens? Only time will tell…
- Of course, none of this is to slight Velus Jones Jr., who continues to be my favorite rookie to put eyes on at camp. More on him later today.
- A fun football-adjacent question:
- Jason Peters was giving Big Show vibes upon arrival to camp last year. As for a player on this year’s team? Rookie Dominique Robinson is long, athletic, and twitchy. He might not take down Roman Reins right now, but he could build into a contender if creative is willing to give him a push:
- Olin Kreutz, who would’ve made a great wrestling heel back when he was mixing it up at center, is making media rounds:
- It was nice having Brett on our turf (literally, too, since we went onto the practice surface at the Payton center) for Saturday’s practice at Halas Hall:
- When Zach McKinstry went on a heater shortly after debuting with the Dodgers, I was one of those fantasy baseball nerds who ran to pick him up because I didn’t want to miss out on the next Max Muncy. McKinstry never made that leap. But because the Dodgers were churning out those types of players all the time, it was a risk I had to take. McKinstry is a Cub now as he comes from the Dodgers as part of the Chris Martin trade, the first such deal for the team (pre-deadline). Brett has more at the OG BN site.
- A good thing to know when your favorite hockey team is rebuilding:
- I think folks finally realized how valuable Lonzo Ball was to the Bulls. May his recovery be swift and successful: