Up to this point a lot of the Bears’ offseason work – minicamps, strength and conditioning, etc. – has involved orientation with a new coaching staff, and evaluations by that staff. In the next several weeks the process moves to a different level, one that represents swinging onto the beginnings of final approach to the 2015 season.
Organized team activities for all but the St. Louis Rams start this week – the Bears hold their first three from Wednesday through Friday – and through the second week of June. The sessions, all at Halas Hall for the Bears, are not open to the public.
The orientation and evaluation processes will be continuing; they are in fact on going even into the season. But these will combine veterans and rookies for the first time and take on increasing importance as installations proceed on offense, defense and special teams.
And they are mandatory, making the attendance of Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte, two who did not attend the voluntary minicamp prior to the draft, more notable. Forte is expected for the sessions; Bennett’s attendance is less certain.
The April minicamp was optional but “[players] miss the installation, they miss the mental time, they miss the on-the-field work,” head coach John Fox said. “So we have a next-man-up approach here, so guys will get opportunities. When one door closes, another door opens for somebody else.”
Players work in helmets but no pads, and hitting is not permitted. Full-team drills are allowed under the collective bargaining agreement.
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Rookies had their own minicamp after the draft. This represents the first coming together of the whole team, and with it an acceleration in the NFL learning process for new players.
“They’re going to be further down the depth chart,” Fox said. “But I don’t think there’s any better teacher than vet players, seeing it be done the right way. That’s why it’s important to have the right kind of guys that are your veterans to do it the right way and do it the right way every day.”
After this week, the Bears hold OTA’s June 1-3 and conclude with four sessions from June 8-11. Training camp commences in Bourbonnais on July 29.