BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Coaches worked as late as midnight on preparations for preseason game No. 2 on Thursday night. While that does not mean intricate game-planning, the clear sign is that the focus is narrowing on personnel evaluations, the real key to this preseason game in particular.
But some personnel decisions are still on hold.
Safety Chris Conte, who practiced in full for a third day, remains a trainer’s decision because of his surgically repaired shoulder. Conte is in an extremely tight competition involving five safeties and his return intensifies the battle among himself, Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray, Brock Vereen and Adrian Wilson for two starting jobs.
“I’m hoping [Conte] can play,” said coach Marc Trestman. “But I can’t say that right now with the limited practice time that he’s had. We’ll wait and see.”
More concerning is the state of right tackle Jordan Mills’ left foot. Mills is secure as the starter but has been in a plastic walking boot most of the past week and hasn’t practiced since before the Philadelphia game.
“I really think it’s just day to day,” Trestman said. “He’s in that boot. He’s out of the boot. He’s doing the things he needs to do. I don’t want to put a time limit on this thing. We’ll just see. As I’ve always said, I’ve been consistent, when the trainers and doctors say he’s ready to go, he’ll be out here. I don’t make those decisions.”
In Mills’ absence, former Montreal Alouette Michael Ola has settled in as the No. 2 right tackle, a thin position already because of Eben Britton’s hamstring strain.
"I think Jordan had a lot of good reps early in training camp and a couple days off," said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. "I don’t think it’s going to hurt him. We hope to get him back soon, and we think we can.
Riding off, and on
Every year for the past 10 a number of Bears players and coaches make their way around Olivet Nazarene University on very nice new mountain-type bikes, gifts from Bike ‘n Hike Shop in Rock Island, Ill. This year 23 bikes were provided.
The best part came Tuesday when the bikes, in an annual end-of-camp tradition, are presented to children recommended by multiple community organizations in the Bourbannais-Kankakee area. The kids also get to meet and talk with the coach or player who used the bike during camp.