Layers of learning process begin for Bears' rookie Adam Shaheen

Layers of learning process begin for Bears' rookie Adam Shaheen

Bears second round rookie Adam Shaheen is big, has had big expectations placed on him with that draft status, and has learned the hard way how to be a big boy, facing up to mistakes.

The 6-foot-6, 277-pound tight end from Division II Ashland admits in the two weeks since becoming the 45th overall pick, he's had to pretty much keep his head from spinning off his neck. It came full circle when walking into Halas Hall Thursday to report to rookie minicamp.

"I'm nervous, obviously. It's to be expected," Shaheen said Saturday, not referring to the four- or five-person press conferences in college he became used to, rather the magnitude of the building, the franchise, the league. "I'm just real excited to be here and make the best of my opportunity."

The former basketball player has hung up those shoes after getting the itch to return to football taking in a Wisconsin-Ohio State football game in Columbus a few years back. But he's still a loyal NBA watcher, as he and roommate Mitch Trubisky did at their hotel to wind down from the first day of minicamp.

Sorry, guys. He's a Cavs fan.

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With the little time he's spent with Trubisky, he sees some of the same signs his bosses apparently saw:  "The demeanor in which he carries himself.  As well as back home he's in the books really trying to learn and develop himself as a starter."

And, oh, that nearby hotel they're staying in? There's a Chipotle right across the street about one light down. That restaurant was Shaheen's "go-to" place in packing on 90  pounds post-hoops, to get where he is today, with some discipline and workouts.

And he has a "go-to" meal there:

"I get a burrito with extra, extra white rice. And then double the chicken, which you've got to tell them because with one scoop of chicken they try to mix it in and you won't get as much. Then just a little corn."

Yes, he's gone there the first two nights in town. And it's a burrito. Not a burrito bowl. But as for the "extra, extra white rice..."

People who'd learned about Shaheen's Twitter history became aware of one, say, less-than-complimentary post several years ago about President Barack Obama. So when the Chipotle recipe was relayed as he spoke Saturday, snark responses followed.

"I know exactly what you're talking about," Shaheen said when broached on the subject. "I was a dumb teenager. If I had the maturity I do now, I would have discovered there could be some potential problems. I would have understood.

"One of my buddies went, 'Hey, man, this is blowing up. (I'm) gonna have to delete that.' Then I went through all of them. I was, like, 'Wow'...just completely...I was a high schooler."

Just another part of the professional playbook the 22-year-old is beginning to absorb.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”