BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- John Fox quickly laid out a first goal of training camps: Come out of them healthy. This camp, however, will be an uphill grind to reach that goal.
The Bears will open camp with rookie wide receiver Kevin White on the physically unable to perform list, along with backup quarterback David Fales. Linebacker Jonathan Bostic and end/linebackers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young will be brought back gradually from season-ending leg injuries, not a positive in their competitions in a still-forming new defensive scheme.
The plan remains to have them for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
“That’s the plan,” Fox said. “We had two [Denver] guys a year ago – Chris Harris and Von Miller – who came off of ACL’s and had Pro Bowl years. So I think we have a pretty good blueprint on how to do it, knock on wood. You hold your breath every time they go out there, because it’s a physical game.”
White missed most of the later offseason practices with a shin injury that had the Bears forced to sit him out of practices for as much as the first six games of the season. White will not be allowed to practice as long as he is on the PUP list and will be limited to trying to build cardiovascular endurance despite a leg injury.
The other “building” will have to come in different ways.
“Just communication,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “You have to talk to him every day. You gotta be in his ear every play, just making sure he knows what is expected of him, what I want him to do. Make sure we’re on the same page. You don’t want to leave the field or leave this camp with any doubts in his mind — what should he be doing? If he’s doing enough? if he’s not doing something right?”
The situation creates a much-needed opportunity for wideout Marquess Wilson to get time with Jay Cutler and the offense. Alshon Jeffery is ensconced as the other wideout, with Eddie Royal set as the No. 3/slot receiver, a place Wilson has not been able to secure in limited playing time.
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Several clouds also lie over the defense, not good situations given the level of competition already existing. Key potential members of that unit did not participate in the offseason practices and now find themselves opening camp with reduced chances to make impressions in a new defensive system with new coaches.
Bostic, whose back injury cut into his 2014 season, will be limited. So will defensive ends Houston and Young, coming back from serious leg injuries and faced with winning jobs despite a handicap in terms of availability.
“But I think we have a good blueprint for regaining their confidence, because so much of this game is mental,” Fox said. “In developing them, getting them stronger and more confident, the goal date is at home against Green Bay.”