Bears players and staff start checking in for Camp ’14 on Wednesday. Practice (sans pads for the first two days) starts on Friday. It’s all a chance to answer for yourself the annual question, “So, how are the Bears looking?”
But before heading south to Bourbonnais, here are a couple of tips as you plan a look at Marc Trestman’s second Bears team:
1. Allow enough time.
One of the positives of Bears camp moving from Platteville to Bourbonnais was that it brought the team’s practices within reach of a whole lot more fans. That’s also one of the “negatives,” if only from the standpoint that it can get a little crowded at times. If you cut the arrival time too thin, there’s the chance of traffic holdups, and waiting in traffic just isn’t a fun start to any day.
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The folks at Olivet Nazarene University are very well trained in traffic direction. Give ‘em a hand by not being in a rush.
2. Know and get ready for the breakdowns.
Practice typically has the requisite warmup periods, with stretching, then individual work by position group, followed by a period of “team” (11-on-11). Those are good, but that’s not the best stuff.
After a brief respite, the real action comes along: the passing drills, where you’ll see Brandon Marshall one-on-one with Charles Tillman or Alshon Jeffery vs. Tim Jennings. There’s no pass rush, and there’s some ego on the line, and you’ll hear the roars from the big plays. Don’t miss this.
Unless it’s for the pass-pro session. That’s where you’ll see Jared Allen one-on-one with Jermon Bushrod, a Pro Bowl pass rusher vs. a Pro Bowl left tackle. Or Kyle Long matched up against Jeremiah Ratliff — Pro Bowl guard vs. Pro Bowl D-tackle. It’s live and it’s serious.
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And they’ll also throw in some two-man work, so you’ll see Allen and Ratliff working paired moves against perhaps Bushod and Matt Slauson.
The “team” sessions are where you can see personnel packages pitted against each other. The specifics in pass-pro and WR-vs.-DB sessions are even more fun.
3. Want autographs? Try manners.
Players usually alternate autograph-signing, every other day typically. So if a player/players walk through the runway without signing, while others are inking everything put in front of them, don’t conclude it’s a blow-off. They may have signed their hands off the day before and will again tomorrow.
More important, over the years it has been very interesting to see players’ reactions to fans who exhibit even a touch of common courtesy, and that includes kids. What do you think the reaction might be to, “Hey, Marshall! Sign this!” vs. either “Brandon, would you sign this for us?” And I have seen more stops by players for young fans who show respect, as in, “Mr. Marshall, Mr. Marshall, would you sign this?” They might not, but belligerent demanding is a sure way to turn off players who otherwise are generally very, very accommodating to their fans.
|Friday||July 25||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Saturday||July 26||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Sunday||July 27||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Monday||July 28||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Tuesday||July 29||No practice|
|Wednesday||July 30||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Thursday||July 31||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Friday||Aug. 1||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Saturday||Aug. 2||6:45-8:45 PM (Soldier Field)|
|Sunday||Aug. 3||No practice|
|Monday||Aug. 4||3:00-5:00 PM|
|Tuesday||Aug. 5||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Wednesday||Aug. 6||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Thursday||Aug. 7||No practice|
|Friday||Aug. 8||Preseason Game 1: Bears vs. Eagles|
|Saturday||Aug. 9||No practice|
|Sunday||Aug. 10||3:00-5:00 PM|
|Monday||Aug. 11||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Tuesday||Aug. 12||9:00-11:30 AM|
|Wednesday||Aug. 13||Break camp|
|Thursday||Aug. 14||Preseason Game 2: Bears vs. Jaguars|