BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The Bears only have four scheduled games this preseason, the first occurring next Thursday at Soldier Field against the Miami Dolphins. But coaches are adding a fifth, or at least a simulated fifth.
The practice schedule shows Saturday as Family Fest in Soldier Field. But where none of the practices in Bourbonnais, even with pads, have been full-go right on through taking ballcarriers and receivers to the ground, Saturday will involve a specific digest of plays and they will be as close to game conditions as the rules allow to this point. And there will be attention to new rules on the field as well.
“We’ll tackle live,” coach John Fox said. “We only do 36 plays. We’ll go 12 plays three different groups, move the ball. We have NFL officials. [NFL referee] Ed Hochuli and a few of his crew members are here… .
“So our guys, just getting them game programmed and game ready. And same thing with our family fest at Soldier Field. We don’t have a preseason game this week. So this kind of mirrors it to some degree. It’s a little bit of a taste for us to see how they operate under pressure.”
That’s really getting to prime directive of this training camp and preseason: Install the schemes of a new coaching staff, and then find out how well those are executed in real-time.
While Jay Cutler was turnover-free through the first seven practices, how will his decision-making stand up when the defense moves to the next level of intensity? And for that matter, how operational is the 3-4 scheme of coordinator Vic Fangio?
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“At the end of the day, I was telling that to ‘P’ [Pernell McPhee], I said at the end of the day you're going to get a block,” said defensive end Jared Allen. “I think we started saying something like, at the end of the day you can line up and you're going to have all the footwork you want. But eventually they're going to block you and you have to beat a block and react to the ball.”
That time is coming on Saturday.