LAKE FOREST, Ill. — It’s only Wednesday night and Kyle Long’s already had a week to forget.
For the third time in three practices, the Bears’ practice was interrupted by two players getting into a fight. Wednesday night’s was the most intense yet, as Long and defensive lineman Jalen Dalton started shoving as a play ended during the team’s scrimmage. Long ripped off Dalton’s helmet and started to hit the undrafted free agent with it before tossing it off the field. The altercation was the second in three practices for Long, who did not return after. (He also appeared to get physically sick on the sidelines minutes later.)
“Well I mean we all saw what we saw and I saw the same thing,” Matt Nagy said after practice. “So you know I'm going to keep that between us internally. But it was just disappointing, you know, but we'll handle that internally and make sure that we do it the right way.”
After a peaceful two weeks in Bourbonnais, the Bears have yet to get through a practice without a fight since they broke camp on Sunday afternoon. Long and Akiem Hicks were involved in a shoving match on Sunday, while Javon Wims and Prince Amukamara mixed it up on Tuesday afternoon. After downplaying the first two incidents as inevitable side effects of preseason drudgery, Nagy was less understanding about the most recent scrap.
“You know, yesterday to me was a little bit more of a pillow fight,” he added. “Today I thought was a little bit, just like I said, it's disappointing…
“... Again, it’s all that kind of stuff where we’re more mature than that. I know that I personally expect more from us.”
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Left guard Cody Whitehair left practice after hurting his left hand. He walked off the field with trainers, his hand wrapped in a towel, and didn’t return. Nagy declined to give specifics on the injury, but the Bears don’t consider it serious. “I don't think he [broke a finger],” he said. “I'm not even sure to tell you the truth, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be fine is what I'm told.”
The Bears’ practice was structured like a real game, with a full 60-minute simulation under the lights. They had crowd noise and music blasting throughout, and even managed to include the Air Raid horn that is featured prominently at Soldier Field. “Yeah, I love that thing, I think it’s awesome,” Nagy said with a smile. “No I do, you know it’s just a part of the environment here at Soldier Field for us. The guys like it, we like it, so let's keep it going.”
It was a strong day for the secondary. Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine both had two interceptions apiece, the latter of which caught the eye of Nagy. “I thought I saw a couple nice plays from Buster,” he said. “It looked like he was flying around pretty good. Made some nice plays with the ball. Kyle Fuller made two really nice plays, with some interceptions.”
Tight end Trey Burton looked as involved as he’s been since camp opened. Nagy made mention of the fact that Burton was eager to get back into the game after being “subbed” out in the 3rd quarter.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller didn’t participate in practice. He’s been out with an ankle injury and Nagy declined to put a timeline on his return, only saying that he feels that Miller “is getting closer.”
The story of the Chicago Bears 2017 NFL draft is a tale of what could've been. Had GM Ryan Pace decided now-Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes was a better quarterback prospect Mitch Trubisky, it's conceivable that Chicago, not Kansas City, would be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
It's a nightmare Bears fans will live through for years and years (and years, and years). And that nightmare isn't limited to the Soldier Field faithful. Coach Matt Nagy has first-hand experience of what life in Mahomes could've been like in Chicago after working with the strong-armed gunslinger as the Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2017.
Mahomes, who sat that season behind veteran Alex Smith, said Nagy was a big influence in his first year as a pro.
‘‘Nagy was amazing with me and my transition into the NFL," Mahomes said this week from Miami, via the Chicago Sun-Times, "being able to relate to me, being able to go out there and let me play fast and be who I am."
Mahomes attempted just 35 passes that season, but Nagy's role in his jump from Texas Tech to the NFL made a lasting impact.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Nagy after two seasons with Trubisky. It isn't necessarily Nagy's fault, although questions about his play-calling ran wild throughout the 2019 season. But Trubisky's physical skill-set isn't (nor will it ever be) comparable to Mahomes'. There's a lot less for Nagy to work with and we may never see his real impact on the quarterback room until the Bears decide to move on from the former second overall pick.
Mahomes will forever haunt Bears fans. But maybe, just maybe, hope remains with Nagy in charge. And maybe, just maybe, he'll have the same Mahomes-effect on whoever QB-next is in Chicago.
Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, one of the team's most important defensive leaders, was limited to just nine games in 2019 after suffering a gruesome left elbow injury in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions. It was a tough break for Trevathan, who's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
Trevathan finished the 2019 regular season with 70 tackles and one sack and had the Bears' sixth-highest run-defense grade from Pro Football Focus.
Teams searching for a physical and instinctive linebacker will rank Trevathan high on their wish list, but his history of injuries will create hesitation in paying top dollar for his services. He's managed just two 16-game seasons in his eight-year career.
Fortunately for Trevathan, his injury wasn't the type that should limit his effectiveness in 2020. He took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce he's back to full health and ready to resume football activities, and presumably, to cash-in on the open market.
This is great news for the Bears and GM Ryan Pace, who in an ideal world would love to have Trevathan lined up next to Roquan Smith in their Super Bowl quest. But with fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also due to become a free agent, Pace has to decide whether Trevathan is a better investment than Kwiatkoski, who proved he's capable of high-end starter's production when he was given opportunities to play in 2019.
Kwiatkoski played 512 snaps last season (compared to Trevathan's 559) and finished with just two fewer tackles and a higher PFF season grade. He was an effective pass-rusher, too, finishing the year with three sacks.
Regardless of which direction the Bears go in free agency, Trevathan's return to full health is good news. Chicago can't go wrong with who they choose to line up as their starting linebacker in 2020.