BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Maybe it was just excitement over training camp coming to a close. But it felt and sounded like something else and that portends a good thing.
Late in practice, during the tight red zone session, members of the No. 1 defense let out with triumphant “whooooop – whoooop” cries every time a member of the second and even third string prevented a touchdown.
Not to be outdone, the offense picked up the trash-whooooping every time one of theirs scored. The result was high-energy fun through practice, with the likes of Lance Briggs and Lamarr Houston breaking into in-your-face power-strutting, answered by Roberto Garza, Kyle Long and others counter-struttin’ every time one of their backups graced the end zone.
“It’s something not every coach likes to see, believe it or not,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “But we like to see it, it’s something we really like seeing, and it says something about your team coming together.”
[MORE BEARS: Problems on special teams?]
No games are won by smack-whooooping in training camp, or even by team chemistry. But the good-natured banter kept up between offense and defense as players left the field on the last day of full practice at Olivet Nazarene University, and the fun was genuine.
“We spend so much time together and even going against each other,” said Garza, one of the team’s co-captains. “It’s great to have a chance to have a good time. Football is a tough sport and when you have fun like that, it’s fun competing and it’s a good thing for a team.”
“Of course, with Briggs over there,” he added, “you know it’s going to be fun.”
The banter had the complete blessing of the team bosses.
“I thought it was great,” said coach Marc Trestman. “As I told our team, I think the team knows how to work, when to focus, when to bring it and again you have to have a sense of humor, too. I don’t know that any of us have been in winning environments where the team didn’t have a sense of humor and know how to use it at the right time. And I thought it was just a great way to finish the camp.”