Practice Notes: Another fight, Emanuel Hall gets cut, and more from the Bears' first practice back at Halas Hall

Practice Notes: Another fight, Emanuel Hall gets cut, and more from the Bears' first practice back at Halas Hall

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears' returned to Halas Hall on Tuesday, and apparently the tempers from Sunday came with them.

Suiting up for the first time since breaking camp on Sunday afternoon, a fight between wide receiver Javon Wims and cornerback Prince Amukamara highlighted what was the team's second-straight testy practice. The two were going against each one another in drills, and it appeared as though Wims took issue with something Amukamara was doing. The two started jawing and eventually (after a cameo from an animated Eddie Jackson) had to be pulled off one another by teammates. It was short lived, though, and both met with Nagy to hash it out moments after.  

"They're competitors, but I wasn't real worried about it," Nagy said after practice. "We talk about how we're going to handle these things internally, when things do happen. To me, there's different levels of it, and there's some levels that can get out of control, and it can ruin things. There's other ones where guys just -- it's competitive -- they're chirping. Guys want to do well. The beauty of our sport in general is that you care. These guys care." 

Nagy joked that the irony of Tuesday's fight was that it happened between "two of the friendliest people on the team." 

A common talking point among Bears players and coaches the last week or so has been about how the team is working through the doldrums of training camp. After two fight-free weeks, Sunday's practice featured the first sign of a skirmish, with Kyle Long and Akiem Hicks butting heads. As Nagy, Amukamara, and Mitch Trubisky were quick to point out, Tuesday's beef was already water under the bridge.

"And at the end of the day we’re competing, pushing each other to get better," Trubisky added. "And I think there’s always frustrations, but you gotta keep the big picture that we’re going against each other and we’re trying to make each other better because we’re on the same team. We’re all going for the common goal. But I think you could see the maturity of the team with the amount of fights we have.

"Teams that want to fight, they’re not there to play football."

Notes from Halas Hall

  • The Bears announced this morning that they cut undrafted free agent Emanuel Hall. Hall, who had seen limited reps in camp because of injury issues, did not play in the team's preseason opener against Carolina. "It’s just a lot of times it comes down to numbers," Nagy said. "He’s done a good job with us, we appreciate everything that he did but that’s just a part of the business.” Nagy also downplayed the timing of the move, saying that with a lot of depth at the position, it was just a numbers game. 
  • Akiem Hicks briefly left practice after seemingly hurting his hand. He came off the field with trainers, was in Halas facilities for a few minutes, and then returned and participated in the rest of the session. 
  • Trubisky spoke highly of rookie wide reciever Riley Ridley, who's strung together some strong practices after a hamstring injury delayed his start. "I love throwing to Riley. He's very savvy," he said. "He's like [Wims] a lot where he can run the whole route tree. We can put him in a lot of different spots and as a rookie and in his first year in this offense he picked up really quickly. You can tell he's got a high football IQ. He studies a lot, he's very competitive. He wants it really bad. And you love to see that as a quarterback." 
  • Both Elliot Fry and Eddie Pineiro were 6 of 8 on the day. 


It's a big week for HaHa Clinton-Dix to reflect – both on the past and the future

It's a big week for HaHa Clinton-Dix to reflect – both on the past and the future

As media members congregated (see: aggressively ran) towards Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s corner locker, the Bears’ locker room burst to life. Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson, only a few feet away, started laughing and giving the safety a hard time for talking with so many cameras. Fellow safety Eddie Jackson stood just behind the scrum, jumping up and down to try to distract him. Tarik Cohen – and about 20 unidentified others – could be heard yelling “HaHa” as Clinton-Dix started fielding the first questions. 

“The vibe in this locker room is great,” he said with a grin. “The guys in here are pumped up, man. We’re just excited about the game coming up this week.”

It’s Packers Week for everyone, but the lead up to Sunday’s game is probably a little bit different for Clinton-Dix – whether he’ll admit it publicly or not. He was drafted by Green Bay back in 2014 and played there for four-and-a-half seasons. It’s where he was given Charles Woodson’s number, and where he made his only Pro Bowl (2016) so far. Sunday will be the first time he’s back, and “homecomings” always mean a little extra, right?

“Not a damn thing,” Clinton-Dix said, keeping a half-convincing poker face. It didn’t last long. 

“I’m just kidding, man,” he added. “It means a lot to be able to go back and play against guys that I’ve been with for the past five years. Getting to compete against your friends makes things more fun and more competitive.” 

“I'm sure he'll be fired up,” Matt Nagy added. 

It’ll be the first time he’s played Green Bay since being traded, but Clinton-Dix has already shown a knack for getting revenge on old teams. In the Bears’ Week 3 win over Washington, he had a touchdown, two interceptions, and two passes deflected. If that sort of performance comes against a team he played nine games for, imagine what he could do against a team he played for eight times as long. 

“If [Aaron Rodgers] decides to bless me and throw me the ball twice, I’ll be happy as hell,” he said. “Unfortunately [he] doesn’t work that way. He’s the best quarterback in the game, and we just have to go execute and make big plays.” 

Clinton-Dix swears he harbors no ill-will towards Green Bay, and says he’s under no illusions about the business side of professional football. According to him, he’s merely happy to have already suited up for two of the league’s flagship organizations. 

“Green Bay and Chicago are two of the most prestigious organizations in the business” he said. “High, top-quality places to play at. I’m blessed to be able to play for both.” 

There’s another business decision rapidly headed his way, though one he’s a bit more in control of. Clinton-Dix will be a free agent at the end of the season, and has clearly played well enough to earn more than the one-year, $3 million contract that the Bears’ signed him to as a prove-it deal. Even if some of the advanced metrics would disagree with his improved-season narrative, he’s put enough good plays on tape to warrant a longer-term deal. The Bears aren’t swimming in cap space and have the other star safety from Alabama to take care of, so the odds of running it back in 2020 don’t look great. But, as Clinton-Dix was quick to remind the eager media scrum, that’s a bridge to cross after Packers Week, and Chiefs Week, and Vikings Week. 

“Only thing I can reflect on is these next three games,” he said. “I’m going to give you the media answer, but I’m excited about this game – I can’t express it anymore. Like I said, I’ve got to finish this game strong. The next three games are important to me, and this one’s next on the list.” 

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Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

What a difference 24 hours makes. 

Here’s Mitch Trubisky, from his weekly Wednesday press conference, talking about the Bears-Packers rivalry. 

“I mean, the rivalry is important for sure,” he said. “The rivalry is very important. But I just feel like where we're at as a team, we're just hungry, that whoever is on our schedule next, we're going to come ready to play where we're playing with confidence. We don't really care who shows up next. The rivalry game is important, but I just sense overall a hungry team that's pretty focused, and hopefully that just drives us to get better throughout the week and come ready to play on Sunday.” 

How diplomatic! Despite this Sunday’s game in Green Bay being the 200th meeting between two of the NFL’s original franchises, there’s been a surprisingly large amount of water thrown on the whole notion of rivalry games around Halas Hall this week. That is, until Thursday. When Nagy was asked about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who’s returning to Green Bay for the first time since being traded last year, the coach wasted no time showing that time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. 

“I mean, on a much smaller spectrum, I've been traded away as a player,” Nagy said. “And I know what that feels like when you play them again. To each their own. I'm sure he'll be fired up. But it's a personal deal with him. I know he'll be focused there to help his defense out.” 

Nagy, of course, is talking about the earth-shattering Arena Football League trade that sent him from the Georgia Force to the Columbus Destroyers in 2007. Nagy got his shot at revenge in the playoffs, when he took the 6-seed Destroyers (7-9) into the Arena at Gwinnett Center and beat the 2-seed Force (14-2), 66-56. Nagy was 23-of-34 for 209 yards and five touchdowns. 

“We played them in the NFC championship game of the Arena League, and we dominated them!” he said. “I'll never forget that game.” 

The Bears now seem happy to embrace the revenge narrative, among a half dozen other motivational colloquialisms they’ve adopted during this three-game win streak. On offense, they’re trying to avoid watching too much of Week 1’s loss, and schematically speaking that’s probably not a bad idea. On defense, they’re watching hand-to-hand combat. It's probably a little on the nose, but when is football not? 

“We like showing boxing stuff,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “You ever watch the Gatti-Ward fight, Round 9?”

Ring Magazine named the bout Fight of the Year in 2002, and Hall of Famer Manny Steward called that ninth round the “Round of the Century.” Micky Ward was a former prodigy who never quite fulfilled his potential, but he managed to find his way back into boxing after a hiatus spent paving roads and upset the heavily favored Arturo Gatti. Though he won by majority decision in 10 rounds, knocking Gotti down in the ninth is widely considered Ward’s crowning achievement – so much so that they got Mark Walhberg to play him in a movie.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the Bears don’t need complete accuracy to find the motivation behind an underdog landing a late-round, knock-down blow. 

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