BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – John Fox wanted to change some things when he took over as Bears head coach. One was to instill a deeper core of toughness, mental and physical. Along with that comes a controlled surliness, or at least on the outer edge of control.
Some of the Bears veered over that last line, with the last of the 13 practices at Olivet Nazarene University being marked by a number of skirmishes in sessions that Fox expressly left the intensity high in temperatures closing in on 90 degrees for the second straight day.
Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff took issue with use of hands by center Will Montgomery during a pass-protection drill, and each player landed heavy blows in a dust-up that left Ratliff fuming for the remainder of practice. Fox spent time in animated conversation with Ratliff, joined by Kyle Long and others.
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Guard Vladimir Ducasse sustained a block into what linebacker Christian Jones considered after the whistle, the two had to be separated, and defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins delivered a smack to the back of Ducasse’s head as the guard walked away.
“Just camp,” said Fox, who said after an earlier-camp fight between Jenkins and Long probably wouldn’t be the last. It wasn’t. “We made it very, very competitive. This was not one of those non-padded, easy, exit, final days of camp. We kind of warned them and alerted them. Stuff happens in camp.”
It does. Defensive end Jared Allen was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs when they practiced with the St. Louis Rams. “Those were melees,” Allen said, shaking his head.
The Bears have Monday off, practice Tuesday at Halas Hall, then travel to Indianapolis for joint practices with the Colts on Wednesday-Thursday. After Friday off, the teams play Saturday in the second preseason game for both.
The Colts practices may be incident-free, but not likely. Fox has made clear his desire to use all the “physical” that the collective bargaining agreement allows, meaning hard practices like Sunday’s will continue.
“We’re still at camp,” Fox said. “It was a very short camp. We’re going to continue it Tuesday as we head to Indy and work against the Colts prior to our Week 2 preseason game. They’ve got tomorrow off. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to find out who the tough guys are. The only way to find out is practices like that.”