The Chicago Bears completed their fifth practice of training camp Monday and will kick things up a notch when they return to the field Tuesday at Halas Hall. The team is less than two weeks away from its first preseason game on August 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs, continuing to put things together and looking for leaders and playmakers to emerge.
As the grind of camp continues, here are three things we learned on Monday.
Per league rules, the Bears got a chance to practice with guards for the first time Monday. But after Sunday’s off day, coach Matt Eberflus opted to loosen up his players before ramping up the intensity with back-to-back pad practices.
“I would prefer to increase it,” said Eberflus. “I think it’s better for players to get back into the swing of things and then put on the pads. It’s an exciting time.”
Eberflus has been emphatic since the spring about his need to test players in cushioned situations with much more contact allowed. So the next two practices should be intense for the players and informative for the coaching staff and front office.
“When you put the sanitary pads on,” Eberflus said, “now you can really see guys going up or down a little bit based on (being in) the sanitary pads. I’ve seen it every year. So we’re looking for that.
“We’re looking for guys that can play with leverage, play (well) with the pads on and guys that are physical. Because we covet guys that are physical and want to play the style that we want to play.”
Eberflus will focus on how players in the trenches compete and produce with pads on. But there will also be a lot to learn about skill position players.
Count veteran tight end Ryan Griffin among those eager to finally have a padded practice.
“This is where we get to see what we’re made of as a team, really as an offense,” Griffin said. “I know Coach Flus will have the defense ready to go. And I take personal responsibility for setting the offensive tone.
“It’s always a fun day. It is a hot day. He’s cranky but he’s fun. Hopefully it’s nice and hot and we’ll see what we’re made of.”
Byron Pringle beat rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon down the right flank, and Justin Fields dropped a perfect deep pass into Pringle’s hands for a long finish that drew roars from the offensive sideline. But in a batting-allowed game situation, safety Eddie Jackson could have crushed Pringle.
In this case, Jackson closed hard from midfield and ran past Pringle’s outside shoulder as the ball came through, avoiding a massive collision. Some of Jackson’s defensive teammates let Pringle know that his big catch had an asterisk.
“They were talking about how I would have felt in the hospital,” Pringle said. “But I saw it. I will not blink my eyes. I will keep smiling.
“He would have had to leave me lying down because I’m not going out.”
Jackson also told Pringle that he should have intercepted the play. To which Pringle replied: “If it was a pick, I would have chosen it, correct?”.
Eberflus said Graham’s hamstring problem hasn’t responded to treatment in the way the team hoped and the young cornerback will be out for a significant amount of time.
“It’s going to be a little bit longer (than we thought),” Eberflus said. “I won’t give you a timeline on that. But he’ll be back when he comes back.
Eberflus did not have an update on offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, who missed his fourth straight practice for reasons the team declined to disclose.
Center Lucas Patrick, defensive tackle Angelo Blackson and tight end Chase Allen were among the others who didn’t practice. Rookie linebacker Christian Albright left practice with what appeared to be an injury to his right leg.