Chicago Bears

What you need to know from Bears training camp: Has another big practice landed Gentry on the map?

What you need to know from Bears training camp: Has another big practice landed Gentry on the map?

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Tanner Gentry’s one-handed catch of a Mark Sanchez deep ball was undoubtedly the highlight of Tuesday’s practice, and was one of the most impressive plays we’ve seen from a skill position player at Olivet Nazarene University this summer. He also made a handful of other plays, too, standing out on an up-and-down day for the offense. 

But despite impressive days like Tuesday, the undrafted free agent from Wyoming has an uphill climb to make the Bears’ Week 1 53-man roster. 

Gentry is aware of this, and is doing something he never did at Wyoming to improve his stock: Do some special teams grunt work. Gentry is working with the Bears’ coverage and front-line kickoff return units, on which he’ll have to tackle more than he ever did in college. 

“It's an adjustment, but I'm trying to learn it and I know I have to make an impact there if I want to make this team,” Gentry said. 

As a receiver, Gentry has displayed good hands and a knack for tracking deep balls in the air. At the least, he could be a good player for the Bears to look to stash on their practice squad; at best, he shows himself to be a valuable special teams contributor who can also catch a few passes here and there as a rookie. 

“I've always been pretty confident in myself and I've always know that I can play at this level,” Gentry said. “I’ve been excited to show everybody what I can do.”

The “it” factor

Gentry’s quarterback at Wyoming last year was Josh Allen, who’s already been tabbed as a likely first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen threw for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for the Cowboys last year, but his 6-foot-5, 222 pound frame has college scouts salivating. 

With the Bears, Gentry is playing with someone who actually was a top-two pick, not just projected as one. But Gentry was able to draw a line between Allen and Mitch Trubisky, with whom he’s developed a solid rapport so far during training camp. 

“Those guys both have the 'it' factor that you're looking for in a first-round guy,” Gentry said. “Josh asks me all the time how he compares to Mitch in certain aspects. They're both great.”

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

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USA TODAY

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

Coach John Fox said Kyle Long expressed “remorse” and was “embarrassed” after being kicked out of Monday’s final training camp practice in Bourbonnais for sparking a pair of skirmishes with teammates.

Long hasn’t been available to the media since his pair of physical outbursts on Monday, and wasn’t at practice Wednesday. Fox said Long was at a doctor’s appointment to get his surgically-repaired ankle checked out, but is expected to be back at practice on Thursday.

Long’s father, NFL on Fox analyst Howie Long, addressed his son’s practice ejection on the Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday.

“He’s gotta get it under control,” Long said. “It’s one of those things where you’re coming back from injury and you’re switching positions, maybe you’re not where you want to be right now.”

Fox said “everything’s fine” with Long after talking with him, and understood where he could be frustrated by slowly being eased back into full team activities during practice (and possibly not playing in any preseason games).

“I think any time a player's injured, they get something that they love taken away from them,” Fox said. “It's been a minute, there's some pain and suffering that goes along with it and I'm sure those are things. But we have a lot of resources here, Kyle knows he's loved here, by his teammates and by everyone in the building. He'll get through it and we talked about that and I think he feels confident in that.”

From the sick bay

Cornerback Prince Amukamara didn’t participate in practice Wednesday due to a strained hamstring and is day-to-day, Fox said. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton had surgery on his fractured pinkie, too, Fox said.

There was some good news for the Bears on Wednesday, though, with Jeremy Langford and Mark Sanchez both participating in practice. Langford isn’t quite back to full health after spraining his ankle during a walkthrough in July, but sounded confident he can get back to that level.

“I think my main thing is getting back to 100 percent and being the player that I am and can be, and the rest will take care of itself,” Langford said.

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky has to at least be aware of the hype he created with his standout preseason debut last week, right? 

“I don’t know what hype you’re taking about,” Trubisky said. “I don’t pay attention to it.”

This is coming from a guy who earlier during training camp said he’s “so good” at tuning out the outside noise, whether it’s coming from social media or traditional media. But even if Trubisky was playing coy and is aware of what’s being said and debated about him, he didn’t sound like someone willing to buy into that hype.

“I think it’s just a small step in the right direction,” Trubisky said of his first preseason game. “I still got a lot of work to do. I was pleased with how I played, but plenty more mistakes are going on during practice for me that I need to work on and continue to improve in my game and make sure when I go out there that I’m doing my job to help other people do their job.”

The mistakes Trubisky identified he made in the Denver game are about what you’d expect from a rookie quarterback making the transition from a college spread offense to the NFL (like taking the wrong drop). The Broncos second/third/fourth-string defenses didn’t throw much at him, either, so a lot of his work on identifying blitzes and setting protections is having to happen in practice. 

So there is plenty on which for Trubisky to work during practices and the Bears’ remaining three preseason games. Like coach John Fox — who said after Thursday’s game he wouldn’t blow up the depth chart for one preseason game — Trubisky wasn’t putting a whole lot of emphasis on what he did against Denver, as good as it may have been. 

“I think it just showed me that I’m making progress, that I could go out there and lead and do my job like I wanted to show,” Trubisky said. “But it was just a small sample. It was the first game, and you just gotta continue to be consistent in reproducing it. that’s why we’re out here working and practicing.”