BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — As the morning fog lifted along I-57, so did the intensity of things here at Olivet Nazarene University, with the Bears only going in shells for their final public practice before heading off to Canton to play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday. Tuesday’s practice will be a light walkthrough. This is a game week, after all.
Matt Nagy described Monday’s practice as more important mentally for players, though we still saw some impressive physical moments — specifically, when Adam Shaheen bodied up Bryce Callahan and Michael Joseph for touchdowns in seven-on-seven red zone drills. We’ve seen that before from Shaheen, though (like in OTAs a year ago), and as always his growth will be tied to what he’s able to do with the pads on.
Those seven-on-seven drills produced the most ooohs and ahhhs of the day. We saw Mitch Trubisky show a good connection with Allen Robinson a few times and fire a handful of perfectly-timed strikes to Tarik Cohen who, yes, did another backflip after getting in the end zone.
“That’s the late night practices, coming out to the field, doing one-on-ones and having that timing and you and the quarterback being on the same page,” Cohen said, “and the end product, you get a touchdown.”
Cohen, too, terrorized undrafted rookie safety Nick Orr in one-on-one drills with some video game-esque juke moves to get himself wide open downfield. What’s clear is that, mentally, Cohen is more than able to handle the responsibilities bestowed upon him by Nagy and Mark Helfrich. Put him at running back, any wide receiver position, returner, quarterback, whatever — he actually even downplayed the mental workload he has to learn all that stuff. Maybe because it’s not that daunting for a guy with roundly-praised work ethic and football intelligence.
“I don’t feel like it’s necessarily a lot that goes into it,” Cohen said. “I only have a certain amount of plays at each position. It’s not like I’m learning the whole playbook at every position, so that makes it a lot easier.”
That kind of attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by a coaching staff that’s quickly warmed to the diminutive playmaker.
“He’s awesome,” Helfrich said. “He’s fun to coach. He’s a guy, literally, you can tell him anything—to line up at any position, he’ll do it with an unbelievably great attitude, a giant smile on his face and run 4.3. It’s amazing how many places he has never lined up before, and you say, ‘Hey, it’s like this,’ and he goes out and does it. That’s invaluable, to be able to plug and play a guy like that, that has the kind of characteristics he does with the ball in his hands. That’s rare.”
Your daily Roquan update is that…
… There’s nothing new to report. No. 58 still isn’t here, and after Sam Darnold joined the New York Jets on Monday Smith is the lone 2018 first-round pick to not have signed a contract yet. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Dan Graziano published a column blasting the Bears for how they’ve handled the Smith situation.
Ryan Pace joined ESPN1000’s “Kap & Co.” from Bourbonnais on Monday and didn’t directly answer the questions about Smith posed to him by NBC Sports Chicago colleagues David Kaplan and Pat Boyle, but did have this to say:
“Sometimes all the details aren’t maybe fully out there. We’re going to work through it and we’re going to do it the right way with agents that we respect, with a player that we respect.”
Pace declined to say if there’s a deadline for Smith to get into camp to be ready for the regular season, but made a point to reiterate that Smith’s football intelligence was one of the reasons why the team drafted him eighth overall back in April. The point, then, being: Smith should be able to quickly pick things up whenever he does join the team.
Ryan Pace, to @thekapman and @BoyleNBCS when asked if he’s confident Smith will be signed & ready for the season: “People ask about deadlines of the outcome, it’s not right to get into that right now.” Said he understands the interest but wants folks to respect the process.— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) July 30, 2018
We’ll be interested to hear what Vic Fangio, who’s not one to B.S. with the press, has to say about the whole situation when he speaks to the media after Tuesday’s practice.
Quote of the Day
“I understand the rule. I was an example last year.” — Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan on the NFL’s new rule on helmet-to-helmet contact, which Nagy said over the weekend is part of why Smith still isn’t in camp. Trevathan was suspended for one game last year after a violent helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.