BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Hi, Downers Grove:

Mike Patocka here, along with sis Jan. Great to see Big Cat Williams and Jim Miller around Bears camp today They were Bears when I first started coming, that first year (2002) for camp in Bourbonnais after those 17 years in Platteville, and they’ve still got time for folks who want to say hello or get autographs.

We’ve been here for a lot of days so far, seen Mitch Trubisky and the offense getting established, and today was a day of extremes, both on offense and defense.

The impressive thing, and coach Matt Nagy has commented on this, is that Mitch seemed to shrug off an interception (there were a few, like most days) and come back with a strike.

Ups and downs

Take Kevin White, for example. In an early 11-on-11 session, Kevin ran away from rookie corner Michael Joseph and hauled in a perfectly thrown pass from Mitch for a 65-yard score. Lit up the entire place. And Kevin went up over corner Kyle Fuller to pluck a TD pass in red-zone one-on-one work. But then Kevin drops one wide open across the middle.

Mitch put an early throw in perfect low position for a TD to Allen Robinson, then later in practice laid in a high throw where only Allen could get it with a leaping catch at the back of the end zone. Make it a trifecta for Allen when Mitch threated a dart in past tight coverage by Bryce Callahan. “He’s a red-zone threat, he’s a guy that understands zones, so if your defense is going to play zone, he has a good feel for that, but he also can create a matchup man-on-man if they’re going to play man coverage,” Nagy said afterwards. “He’s a bigger type guy with great hands, and so we’re trying to steal as many reps as we can right now with both the zone coverages and man coverages and test it out and again see where we’re at.”

 

Needed: Accuracy

But amid all that, Mitch missed with a shovel pass and also a pitch to a back (rcovered by linebacker Sam Acho), all part of that looks like more “learning process. Mitch was sub-60 percent in passing last year and their new offense has to have better than that if it’s going to use the pass as part of ball-control. In the last “team” period, Mitch and the receivers seemed way out of synch, with incompletions to Josh Bellamy and Kevin White where the throws were nowhere close to where the receiver was. Even a nice completion was way behind receiver Bennie Fowler.

You have to be accurate,” coach said. “And you get bigger guys, bigger running backs, tight ends, guys that have these bigger shoulder pads, if you throw anything behind them on the hip, it slows them up and now it’s a catch-tackle. In terms of putting on him, right in front of him, do they have a guy trailing him? Are they running free? We teach that pinpoint accuracy. He’ll kind of get a feel for who these guys are, what they’re speed is, coming across, for instance, on a shallow cross and where to throw the football. There were some inaccuracies today, but that’s kind of natural, and he’ll keep getting better at that.”

Wins and losses

Mitch went for six to Trey Burton when safety Adrian Amos was a step behind due to the smallest slip; nice to see an offense that makes you pay for a single missed step.

You almost felt sorry for Leonard Floyd, though. Leonard’s having a great camp, moving fast, really getting into the backfield with his pass rushes and covering all over the field when they need him to. Well, sort of… . The coaches cooked up plays that had Leonard in single coverage against Taylor Gabriel (he’s nicknamed “Turbo” for a reason), and another instance in the open field against Tarik Cohen. Turbo turned his into a TD and showed up a rubber-legged touchdown dance that everybody loved. But Leonard let Tarik do a couple fancy high-steps and then stuffed him solo.

Tarik had his moment, though. He beat single coverage by a linebacker, caught a TD ball from backup Chase Daniel, then did a standing backflip. Match THAT, Turbo! 

 

Getting testy

The guys had their second camp fight, with linebacker Jonathan Anderson and Dejon Allen mixing it up at the end of a play. Tackle Bradley Sowell, who’d traded hands with Akiem Hicks a few days ago, nearly came to blows nearby the main combatants with safety Deandre Houston-Carson, but Sowell had DHC’s facemask and a huge reach advantage and they worked it out. D-lineman Akiem Hicks took a grumpy backwards swing at tackle Bobby Massie at the end of a double-team, run-blocking drill; no harm done but a lot of grumpy going around.

We all think they’re probably really ready for a game and chances to hit somebody in another uniform, which’ll happen next Thursday in Canton against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. As Mitch said, “Just really we need a great week of preparation heading up into that, continue to take care of our bodies and get ready to go. It’ll be nice to go against someone else besides our defense.”

They’ll go against their own defense again tomorrow (Saturday), and in full pads. Should be good theater here in my 18th camp. Got some great pictures to show you when we’re back.

From the bleachers,

(Signed) Mike