Bears Begin Different, Challenging Training Camp

Most NFL teams can't hold full contact practices until Aug. 17.

Chris Emma
July 28, 2020 - 3:26 pm
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(670 The Score) On Tuesday, the Bears reported for a training camp unlike any other.

The Bears were immediately greeted by a thermal temperature check after walking through their usual entrance at Halas Hall. All tier 1 individuals -- players, coaches, trainers, physicians and personnel -- underwent intake coronavirus testing Tuesday and will do so again Wednesday and Friday. By Saturday, the daily testing will begin.

While a typical training camp would consist of practices beginning Wednesday and pads being worn by Friday, this is no normal training camp amid a pandemic.

Instead of being fitted for shoulder pads and a helmet, each player is initially being assigned a Kinexon proximity tracking device. Meetings will be conducted virtually, with some of the early ones set to involve COVID-19 education.

The Bears had their infectious disease emergency response plan officially approved Monday, with head athletic trainer Andre Tucker serving as the team's infectious control officer. It was the responsibility of Tucker as well as head equipment manager Tony Medlin to reshape Halas Hall to adhere to the NFL's health and safety protocols. Part of that included converting a players' lounge into an additional locker room.

Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman informed the team that he's opting out of of playing the 2020 season due to safety concerns, as NFL Media first reported. Other players could do the same before the deadline Monday. In the meantime, general manager Ryan Pace must pare down the Bears' roster from 84 players to 80. He also needs to add depth at nose tackle.

After a virtual offseason program, the Bears and most other NFL teams won't be allowed to hold full contact practice until Aug. 17. That date is a little less than a month before Chicago opens its regular season at Detroit on Sept. 13. All media obligations for players and coaches will be conducted through Zoom video conferencing.

There will also be no preseason games this summer. That will create challenges for many teams, including the Bears, who are conducting a quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. Coach Matt Nagy and his staff will need to create as many live reps as possible in practices as they look to thoroughly evaluate the two quarterbacks.

The Bears won't hold their Family Fest practice inside Soldier Field or the Varsity Bears practice at a local high school. Instead, what Nagy and his staff may do is create a game-like atmosphere on the back fields of Halas Hall, as they did last August. That type of controlled scrimmage is what the Bears utilized in training camp in 2019 as Nagy chose to bench his starters for almost all of the preseason.

Back in January before the pandemic, the Bears made the decision to leave their training camp site in Bourbonnais and conduct their work instead at Halas Hall. That would've been mandated anyway, with each team now holding training camp at their headquarters instead of an off-site location.

This training camp will be different from every one before it, but the set of challenges are shared for each team. So begins the process toward an extraordinary football season in an unprecedented year.

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