Injury concerns not causing John Fox to curtail Bears minicamp work

Injury concerns not causing John Fox to curtail Bears minicamp work

The pre-camp portion of the 2015 offseason was a health disaster for some high-profile players. The problems have not, however, moved Bears coach John Fox to follow the leads of some teams and dial back an already limited workload for rookies beginning their NFL lives in sessions like this weekend’s rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.

The Bears used the No. 7 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft on wide receiver Kevin White, who developed pain in his left shin through early workouts, then was lost for the season when the injury turned out to be a stress fracture.

The Miami Dolphins and a handful of other teams have dialed back the limited work schedule in their minicamps even further, intent on orientation of rookies rather than exposing them to injury risk.

But Fox and the Bears do not put White’s injury in the same classification as those that took down some prominent rookies in minicamps this time last year.

“With Kevin, his ‘injury’ was more training, more a track-style of injury rather than football,” Fox said. “It obviously set him back, his rookie season back. But those things aren’t preventable as far as what you’re doing in practice and those types of things. But we’re always conscious of keeping guys out there, keeping guys healthy so they can practice.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars lost Dante Fowler for the season when the rookie linebacker, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2015 draft, tore an ACL barely an hour into the first minicamp. The Denver Broncos used a third-round 2015 draft pick on Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman, then saw him go down with a torn ACL suffered in rookie camp.

Former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, now Dolphins head coach, is putting his rookies through on-field practices. He didn’t learn that from Fox.

“I can’t speak to what Adam or anyone else did,” Fox said. “I know what we do and believe in and we’ll pretty much stick to that.”

The twist in all of this is that numerous coaches lament the rules under the collective bargaining agreement that dramatically dialed back the amount of hitting and other practice encounters permissible. Yet some are taking it upon themselves to reduce the practice load for incoming new players.

Fox sees a huge evaluation job, though, and that has to happen primarily through practice until preseason games arrive. And these practices are “Super Bowls” for many of those players, their one big chance.

“We’ve got 33 just tryout guys who aren’t under contract but were out there today,” Fox said. “I’ve seen these guys come from all different places, high picks, low picks, not picked. They understand they get an opportunity, had one of those chairs in the rooms last night, and they’re being evaluated. So they’ve got a time, albeit a short time, to catch coaches’ eyes.”

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

 BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Dear Tolliver clan:
I think most of you were there at practice today in your “Toliver II 33” T-shirts, including the three little guys in their “K. T. II Cousin” T’s. That’s pretty amazing support for an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback out of LSU, so you know I just had to intercept another pass for you guys, after the two yesterday. This one was off Tyler Bray throwing a ball to Anthony Miller, a rookie wide receiver who’s playing like anything but a rookie. Miller has amazing speed and is catching balls all over the field and having fun with the crowd. He stopped short of the end zone after one long catch, fans started yelling for him to score, so he backtracked fast and broke the plane of the goal line. Fans loved it.
Anthony made a diving catch 45 yards downfield off a throw from Chase Daniel (I won’t say against whom) and Mitch Trubisky and I think half the offense sprinted downfield to give him high-fives. Lotta energy on that side of the football. 
And we had some great defensive moments, too. Prince Amukamara broke and nearly intercepted at Mitch pass to Kevin White, and Bryce Callahan broke up one to Josh Bellamy one play later.
Meanwhile, the fans loved just about everything, this being the first practice the public could watch. They were even cheering completions in drills, especially Tarik Cohen, who seems like everybody’s favorite. They loved it (and so did the players) when tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride was up tight on guys to simulate press coverage and got faked right off his feet by Trey Burton working his release. But it was all in good fun, and Trey is a tough cover for us DB’s, let alone a coach.
Speaking of “coach,” coach Nagy said some nice things about me after practice, saying I’d flashed a few times and gotten turnovers, and “we stressed takeaways on defense and having interceptions is important. [Kevin’s] done that now the last couple of days. Kevin’s a big kid. He’s a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety. So for him to be able to move around out here, it’s about getting confidence. So any time he gets some interceptions, you’re going to build confidence.”
Coach Nagy said he needs to see me do it in pads, and we go in pads tomorrow for the first time. The hitting’ll really start then.
[signed] Your favorite family cornerback,

Wanted: QB accuracy
Improving on the 59.4-percent completion rate he posted as a rookie was a prime directive for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but Saturday’s session was not a step in the right direction. Trubisky completed less than half of his throws in two 7-on-7 sessions that normally favor the quarterback and receiver. His accuracy rate was no better in the first full-team session but in the second he completed eight of 10, two for touchdowns.
Whether the issues were throwing accuracy, route-running or combination of elements wasn’t easily apparent, and coach Matt Nagy did not seem concerned.
“There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made out here; that’s what training camp’s all about,” Nagy said.
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Sick bay
Guard Kyle Long, coming back from multiple surgeries, was given the first of his scheduled days off on Saturday. Veteran Earl Watford stepped in at right guard. Linebacker Danny Trevathan remained out with a hamstring issue, as did cornerback Sherrick McManis.
More concerning was the absence of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who injured a hamstring in Friday’s relatively light practice. It marked the third time this offseason that Lynch has been sidelined with injuries, following ankle and hamstring problems through OTA’s and minicamp.
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It could happen….
Legendary NFL writer Peter King, who joined NBC Sports full time this year after nearly 30 years with Sports Illustrated, dropped by training camp as part of his annual “North American tour” and sat down for chats with this writer, which was a chance to recall some good times and stories as far back as Platteville. Peter and I did a little podcast that includes some Brian Urlacher, Mike Ditka and other tales, as well as Peter’s assessment of the Bears’ situation.
Interestingly, Peter does not rule out a season with as many as 10 W’s, despite being in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions with a first-year combination of coach-quarterback-system.
It could happen…..


Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside


Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: