BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Jermon Bushrod has been voted to a couple of Pro Bowls. He’s been on a Super Bowl winner. He signed a huge contract this offseason with the Bears so financial security isn’t a worry.
But the veteran left tackle admitted to a spot of the jitters on Sunday when he went against Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton in one-on-one pass-rush drills for the first times.
“You get the pads on for the first day and you’ve got to face guys like Julius and Wootton coming off that edge, you get a little jittery,” Bushrod said. “But you’ve got to slow yourself down and get back to the fundamentals and just go out here and do your part to have a little bit of success.”
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A crowd estimated by officials at more than 9,000 turned out for the first look at the 2013 Bears in full dress uniform, one that saw the start of hitting in earnest along with several spectacular pass receptions by an offense that took a step up after early stumbles.
“I thought the defense had the jump start on us today and there were defensive players who had edges, and we have to clean up some of the things inside, and we’ll do that,” coach Marc Trestman said. “That’s pretty normal for the first time usually the defense has the jump and it usually evens out in the end. I thought as we went along during practice and the competitive portions we cleaned things up.”
Practice remained uptempo but the addition of pads and position groups spread out and needing time to come together for team sessions slowed the speed a little.
Regardless, the sense was that after an offseason and early camp in which pads and direct physical competition was prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement, it was about time for some football.
“It’s time, you know, it’s time,” said center Roberto Garza. “It’s time to go out there and work on the stuff that you can really work on. In shorts, there’s only one speed. …When you start hitting people, that’s when the real fun begins.”
Trestman said the Bears are able to do their one daily practice in pads from this point on but it was uncertain how much work in pads would be the order of camp.