BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – After eight days of training-camp practices, five in full pads, the Bears will hold Saturday’s practice at Soldier Field for the annual Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest. But while Friday’s practice was in pads and helmets, the players were in shorts, which limited the true live action.
That restraint will be lifted on Saturday. The practice, beginning at 12:30 p.m., will include 36 plays (12 each for first, second and third units) in a live scrimmage.
“We’ll have some special-teams things,” said coach John Fox. “Kind of a normal practice. We’ll have a seven-on-seven. The difference will be we’ll play 36 plays, groups of 12 with live scrimmage except for the quarterback”…
…Cornerback Tracy Porter managed an interception of a Jay Cutler pass on Friday, which was bad enough. But safety Harold Jones-Quartey, who was the recipient of an interception on a ball off receiver Alshon Jeffery’s hands earlier in camp, celebrated a bit too much to suit Cutler, who suggested, politely, of course, that Jones-Quartey might want to vacate the field and take a temporary vow of silence…
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
…They might have been positioned for a team photo on Friday – exactly the kind no team wants.
Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Kevin White and Marquess Wilson were all side by side along the Bears’ practice field, none in uniform and all but White, given a rest day after a strong week-plus of practice, dealing with injuries.
Not far away, No. 1 tight end Zach Miller was in a jersey but not participating as he goes through the team’s concussion protocol. Miller’s absence from practice might normally have given aspiring No. 2 Greg Scruggs additional reps, but Scruggs was in the hospital from a bruised lung suffered Thursday.
Such was the state of the Bears’ primary receivers corps a week ahead of the first preseason game, on Thursday Aug. 11 at Soldier Field vs. the Denver Broncos.
Jeffery’s strained hamstring remains the central injury drama, given his litany of nicks and lost playing time last season. With Sunday as an off day, Jeffery is a longshot to take part in Saturday’s practice at Soldier Field, and whispers about his lack of durability and toughness will persist until he gets on and stays on the field.
“I think sometimes there's legitimate injuries,” said receivers coach Curtis Johnson, who has been hard on all his wideouts, not just Jeffery. “But I think this: I think when he does play, he'll be prepared to play and hopefully he plays more games.
“But the one thing is when he's out here and he's playing tough and he's going through it, you'll see he's run a deep route, he'll come back and get back in line and run another one, I've made him run it over and over until it's absolutely right. So I think he's what we want.”
White missed all of 2015 with a stress fracture and coaches appear to want moderation in what is the virtual rookie’s first NFL training camp. “We adjust the number of reps,” Fox said, “but that’s kind of the grind of camp…”