Bears players and coaches have been preparing for 2016 intermittently for the past several months. That said, the 2016 “season” effectively begins on Thursday with the Bears holding their first practice of training camp, one that will be open to the public even though players will work the first two days without pads.
From now until early next year, the Bears will have no more than one day off at a time, save the off-week leading up to no game on Nov. 6, and other than perhaps a bonus day off here and there, such as after the Thursday, Oct. 20 night game at Green Bay, after which coach John Fox may grant his team a couple added days off, depending on the performance in Green Bay.
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Pads come on for the first time since last Jan. 3 against the Detroit Lions as of Saturday’s practice. Thus begins the ongoing balancing act for coaches to maximize the amount of productive time within the parameters allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, all in the context of heat and conditions of contact.
“You’ve got to get your team ready for battle and you’ve got to make sure you’ve got guys ready to go to battle with,” Fox said. “So it’s a fine line, getting ready for football.”
The Bears already have had offseason injuries to guard Ted Larsen and wide receiver Marquess Wilson, in addition to a strained hamstring for rookie running back Jordan Howard and veterans like Pernell McPhee (knee) coming off surgery.
“It’s a combative game and injuries are part of it,” Fox said. “You’ve got to have some good fortune, and some good practice habits. That way you’re getting better and more physical, yet not to the point where you’re losing guys. Obviously with the reduction of our offseason and the things we used to do as coaches, I don’t think doing less of that is the right idea.”
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Training camp this year includes one of the shortest off-site stretches ever, with 10 sessions at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais and one at Soldier Field on Sat. Aug. 6.
Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)
Wednesday, July 27: Report day
Thursday, July 28: 9:35 a.m. practice (no pads)
Friday, July 29: 11:15 a.m. practice (no pads)
Saturday, July 30: 9:35 a.m. practice
Sunday, July 31: 11:15 a.m. practice
Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)
Monday, Aug. 1: 9:35 a.m. practice
Tuesday, Aug. 2: Off day
Wednesday, Aug. 3: 11:15 a.m. practice
Thursday, Aug. 4: 9:35 a.m. practice
Friday, Aug. 5: 11:15 a.m. practice
Saturday, Aug. 6: 12:30 p.m. Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest (Soldier Field)
Sunday, Aug.7: Off day
Monday, Aug. 8: 11:15 a.m. practice
Tuesday, Aug. 9: 9:35 a.m. practice/final open practice
Wednesday, Aug. 10: Off day
Thursday, Aug. 11: Bears vs. Denver Broncos, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 18: Bears at New England Patriots, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 27: Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 12 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 1: Bears at Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m.