Practice is, as Allen Iverson would agree, is just practice. Except this week.
After a one-day stopover for Tuesday's practice at Halas Hall, the Bears were headed for Indianapolis for two days of practice and a Saturday game with the Colts. Inter-team practices typically extend over three days but the third day was done away with this trip for a simple reason, besides the presence of a game.
“One of the things you learn through experience is we’re only going two days instead of three days,” Bears head coach John Fox said. "That third day things get a little chippy, so I think part of the planning is looking at that third day. So we’ll work like we did last week prior to Miami the day before the game’s scheduled and we’ll practice with our own team at Lucas Oil on Friday.”
The mood was clearly one of looking forward to something other than seeing the same faces day after day after day in practice.
“It'll be really nice to go down to Indianapolis to echo some of the things that coach Fox was just talking about,” said guard Kyle Long. “[The Colts are] a playoff team; they have the model for what it is to be successful in this league.”
(That “model” probably has something to do with staffing a certain position with No. 1 overall picks (Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck) that work out at Hall of Fame levels. But that’s another discussion.)
Still, “it'll be a good idea to see how they practice and how they go about their business and also get an opportunity to see some other guys in a practice setting, you know we get to practice against them twice, get to play against them Saturday, so that'll be a really good experience for a lot of the younger guys and for all of us,” Long said.
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The practices are scheduled for mid-afternoon Wednesday and Thursday. As recently as Monday night the two teams were still tweaking plans, including the prospect of rain, in which case half of each team will stay at the Colts’ facility for practice and the other halves will be indoors at Lucas Oil. "There’s been a lot of planning, yes,” Fox said.
That planning includes specifically avoiding fighting, or at least the NFL wants that to be part of training-camp thinking. In the wake of the spate of fights in camps, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a memo to all 32 teams Friday reminding players that prohibiting fights during games will be a point of emphasis for officials, the Associated Press reported.
“I just think it’s important to see other people, the styles of play,” Fox said. “They’re a playoff team from a year ago and I know their staff pretty well; they’re good guys and look forward to it being competitive and yet civil.”