Physical Training Camp Awaits Bears

The Bears open training camp at Olivet Nazarene on Friday.

Chris Emma
July 19, 2018 - 5:55 pm
Bears coach Matt Nagy

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (670 The Score) -- A rite of passage before every football season, training camp features players pushing each other through practices that by design are grueling. 

While players may dread it, they know well the importance.

"It has to be competitive," Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said after the team reported to camp at Olivet Nazarene on Thursday. "It has to be where you get out there and a couple days, hot, back-to-back-to-back (days of practice) and coach is running you hard. It's giving us a little test. You need those moments. 

"Those are the moments I look forward to at training camp, where you know it gets a little aggressive out there. I think that builds not only your team confidence but that tenacity, that edge you need to have to play, especially defense."

Hicks' wish will soon be granted by first-year coach Matt Nagy, who promised the Bears will have physical practices in training camp.

Fresh off a run of 14-34 across three seasons under previous coach John Fox, the Bears are hoping to set a new foundation with Nagy in charge. That begins now in Bourbonnais.

"We’re going to have a physical camp," Nagy said. "There’s going to be some live action that goes on. The guys know that. 

“We need to callous our team a little bit."

Physicality comes at a risk for the Bears, who have endured countless injuries the last three years. However, general manager Ryan Pace expressed confidence in the lengths his team took this offseason to ensure health, including hiring a new strength and conditioning coach in Jason Loscalzo and head athletic trainer in Andre Tucker.

But football is meant to be physical, and that's something often lost because of how training camp is structured. Gone are the two-a-days practices, and the NFL Players' Association collectively bargained for fewer padded practices and more rest.

The Bears are aiming to maximize their practice time while not being afraid of injuries.

"This is a physical game and some of (the injuries are) inevitable," Pace said. "And some of that is going to happen. We have to have depth at certain positions to protect ourselves from that. We can’t come into this concerned about that all the time. As Matt said, we have to have a physical camp and we have to build callous because it’s going to be a physical grueling season."

What does physicality mean in training camp? The first look will come Friday afternoon, when the Bears hold their first practice.

The hope is that camp will bring out their best for this season.

"I’m looking forward to it," cornerback Kyle Fuller said. "It’ll be a lot of fun, a lot of competing going on. (It will ) just make us better, so that’ll definitely be good."

Expectations for White?

Pressed about possibilities for his offense, Nagy seemed to scoff at the idea that a pair of receivers in Allen Robinson and Kevin White couldn't be compatible together.

In his fourth training camp after three lost and injury-plagued seasons with the Bears, White has expectations that are -- um -- tempered.

"Be the best he can be," Pace said of the 2015 first-round pick.

Signed to a three-year, $42-million deal this offseason, Robinson is will fill the No. 1 receiver role. Targets like Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen will also get ample opportunities in Nagy's offense. 

As for White, opportunities must be earned. The Bears remain hopeful he can emerge into a role.

"Kevin White brings a lot to the table," Robinson said.

"Whenever you’ve got him and Taylor and Anthony and those guys on the field, I mean, to be honest, we can any point in time are six points away."

Bears looking healthy

After the Bears check into their dorms, one of the items on their to-do list will be taking a physical.

Those will ultimately confirm what Nagy announced Thursday -- that the Bears don't expect any players to open camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. 

The Bears encountered the bad news on their report date last year when an irregularity was discovered in Pernell McPhee's knee. They're more optimistic about three key players this time.

Robinson, guard Kyle Long and linebacker Leonard Floyd are all expected to be "full steam ahead" for practice Friday, Nagy said. The Bears worked cautiously with each of the three during the offseason program with training camp as the goal in mind.

Trubisky going radio silent ... on socal media

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has a personality teammates now know well in his second season. It's something fans won't get to know too well just yet.

Trubisky won't be tweeting any time soon, entering what he called "Zero Dark Ten" for training camp with Long. He's blocking out social media as he focuses on work.

"I have a great opportunity, so I’m trying to put all my focus and energy into this game and what I have to do," Trubisky said. "And whatever anyone else says on the outside, whether it be positive or negative or hype or just trying to tear me down, it really doesn’t matter to me. I know who I am, I know what kind of player I can be, I know my role on this team. So, that’s really what I’m looking forward to, to prove to myself and my team."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.