Bears

Minicamp to mark last Bears stop before training camp

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Minicamp to mark last Bears stop before training camp

The linemen still won’t be in pads and meaningfully hitting each other, and any position battles will still be many weeks away from resolution. But the Bears will finish off the third phase of their offseason this week with a three-day minicamp Tuesday-Thursday before adjourning completely until July 29.

This camp is mandatory, meaning another decision point for Martellus Bennett. The tight end has skipped the offseason program so far but would face more than $70,000 in fines if he turns an absence from voluntary workouts into a full-fledged holdout.

[MORE: Bears rookies being forced to prove they belong]

Beyond that, meaningful decisions on the lines and myriad other situations will remain in abeyance, particularly since the padded, full-contact work in downstate Illinois August heat is when the first traces of injuries and durability issues typically first surface.

“I think [minicamp sessions are] really just opportunities to practice,” said coach John Fox. “Phase 3, pretty much the same kind of thing. In minicamp, you actually have two practices, they say, but it’s really only one practice. The other’s a walk-through. But other than that, it’s pretty much the same schedule.”

Whether Kyle Long is still at right tackle rather than back right guard, and whether it means anything if he is, or isn’t, will be under study again. Whether Christian Jones and Shea McClellin are the starting inside linebackers won’t really matter until pads come on in Bourbonnais; same with whether Will Sutton or rookie Eddie Goldman is the No. 1 nose tackle.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans]

What actually does matter is whether or not an internal cohesion and comfort level in all three phases are forming, particularly given a nearly all-new coaching staff and so many new faces from the draft, veteran free agency and undrafteds.

“Everything is coming together, for sure,” said veteran safety Antrel Rolle, signed away from the New York Giants. “There's still a lot of work left to be done, which is expected, but things are coming together. The feeling is good and the tempo is great.

“We're just getting to know each other, and that definitely takes time. We're just waiting for it to all click.”

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

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USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20.