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.
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.
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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.”