Sunday was a bit of a showcase game for Adam Shaheen, who until last weekend was mostly a sparingly-used third tight end asked to, primarily, block. But Zach Miller’s season-ending injury and Dion Sims’ absence due to an illness vaulted Shaheen to the top of the Bears’ tight end depth chart, providing a clean slate for the second-round pick to make an impression.
Shaheen started the game strong, with two catches for 39 yards in the first quarter, and he felt like he could’ve rumbled for more than 31 yards on his longest reception: “I’m just mad I missed the stiff arm by about an inch or I might have been able to make it even longer,” he said.
But after those two early targets, Shaheen didn’t have a pass thrown his way the rest of the game. Daniel Brown wound up playing more snaps (38) than Shaheen (31). Still, for a guy who was only targeted twice in eight games prior to Sunday, the Bears thought he took a step in the right direction.
“I thought he played well,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “I thought he started fast in the game. The coverage kind of dictated where the ball went with him. He did a good job in a lot of ways.”
Shaheen was harder on himself, saying “anyone could have just run through there” of his wide-open catch that led to that 31-yard gain. He felt like his run blocking was “in and out” and pointed to getting beat badly by Clay Matthews as one of his bigger mistakes.
But with Miller out of the rest of the year and Sims not practicing again on Wednesday (coach John Fox said Sims is getting better and exercising, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play this weekend), Shaheen will continue to get more opportunities to grow in the second half of the season. Building off the limited things he did against Green Bay — that were still an overall positive — would be a good start.
“I hope that I can keep contributing,” Shaheen said. “Once Dion gets back, I’m going to do my role. If that is blocking and getting on a few routes too, then great. But it’s not about me. It’s about helping the team out in any way I possibly can.”
Matt Nagy kicked off his tenure with the Chicago Bears Friday in the first practice of his first-ever training camp as a head coach.
The weather didn't exactly cooperate for Nagy, who decided the Bears would run through the entire session outdoors despite periodic downpours.
"You don’t want to have that mentality where you just always try to have perfect weather,” he said. "That’s not realistic. Whether it’s the wind, which can be just as bad as the rain, rain, snow, I mean, we’re in Chicago, so that’s something we need to take into account."
While Nagy certainly has a point, Bears fans are scarred by practice-field injuries this time of year. A wet field can lead to slips and slides that turn into pulls and strains.
"In the summertime, you like have your first practice and have the sun, but it didn’t happen and that’s OK.”
The Bears held Danny Trevathan and Sherrick McManis out of practice because of hamstring injuries, neither of which are considered serious. Allowing either of them to practice on a wet field wouldn't have been the smartest idea and likely played a big part in keeping them sidelined.
Welcome to the Nagy era, one in which neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will force the team indoors.
Kyle Long is healthy and was back to doing what he loves on Friday as the Chicago Bears kicked off training camp with the first practice session of the summer.
"I got to hit other guys, and that was fun," Long said after practice.
Long, who's one of the most recognizable players on the Bears and the team's most outspoken personality on social media, confirmed Friday that the locker room now belongs to quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
"He's really taking ownership of this locker room. It's not something that's forced; it's organic. The guys believe in him. We're lucky to have him."
Long joked that Trubisky's maturation included a beard and a deeper voice.
"He’s a grown man now. He’s got some facial hair. He has some bass in his voice."
Trubisky's growth on the field will be just as important as what he's done off of it since January.
There will be a few bumps in the road early in training camp. Defense is usually ahead of the offense for the first week or so. Combine that with Trubisky learning a new system, and the first few days will probably have more negative than positive offensive reviews.
And that's where the confidence Long is talking about is so important. If the team believes in Trubisky, he'll have the opportunity to work through the lows and get the offense where it needs to be by Week 1 without any locker room whispers.
With Long watching his back (both on and off the field), Trubisky will be just fine.