Matt Nagy will get a head start on his first training camp as a head coach, with the Bears being selected to face the Baltimore Ravens in Aug. 2’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
For a first-time head coach aiming to establish an identity in his new team, the extra week of practice allowed to participants in the Hall of Fame game should be a nice boost to those efforts. And extra time for he and his staff to coach players is important, especially for whatever rookies are in Bourbonnais.
On a player-specific level, starting training camp early should help these guys:
-Mitchell Trubisky, with picking up the offense installed by Nagy and Mark Helfrich
-Adam Shaheen, with growing as a complete tight end after a full the offseason under the Bears’ watch
-Whoever the Bears’ wide receivers are, with developing a chemistry with Trubisky
-Kevin White, in trying to copy Kyle Fuller’s 2017 season and build a base for success in Bourbonnais
-Kyle Long, if he’s healthy and available, with getting a more extended run of practices than he did last summer
-Leonard Floyd, also if he’s healthy, in returning strong from his season-ending knee injury
-Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson, with continuing to develop as a solid safety pair in Vic Fangio’s defense
That’s not a complete list, of course. And bumping training camp up a week will also accelerate PUP list decisions on rehabbing players, which could be a drawback depending on how some of these guys exit June’s veteran minicamp.
The actual Hall of Fame Game isn’t nearly as important as the extra practices — last year, for instance, Dak Prescott didn’t play when the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Canton in early August. It’s unlikely Mitchell Trubisky will play, and the same probably goes for guys like Jordan Howard, Cody Whitehair, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan and (if he’s back) Kyle Fuller, among plenty of others.
There is, of course, the risk of having someone get injured in that extra week of practice and/or in the game. But that’s the nature of football, and few (if any) in coaching circles would actually argue that extra practice is ever a bad thing.
And more than anything, the Bears’ selection to play in the Hall of Fame game is a neat opportunity for fans to travel en masse to Canton and celebrate the career of Brian Urlacher with Thursday’s game and Saturday’s induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The hoard of orange and blue descending on Canton should make for an awfully fun weekend.