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Bears Showed Up in Better Shape Than Matt Nagy Expected

Bears coach Matt Nagy admitted to some fear over what kind of condition his players would be in when they arrived at Halas Hall but after a few days of work it appears all are in shape and hoping to avoid COVID-19 problems.

When Matt Nagy turned his players loose virtually in June after doing meetings via Zoom, he didn't know quite what to expect when they would come to Halas Hall.

"You kind of hold your breath when you haven't seen these guys this whole time," Nagy said Wednesday during a Zoom conference call with media.

Their conditioning would be the big question, considering most were left to their own devices albeit with direction from Bears conditioning coaches.

No problem, Nagy said Wednesday after the first few days of going through meetings, walk throughs, running and weight lifting.

"Our players, to their credit, No. 1, they've come into camp in exceptional shape," Nagy said. "We weren't sure how that was going to happen, just not knowing where they were and what they had to be able to work out in during the quarantine, but I'm just really proud of the players for the way that they came into shape.

"Well now, we have to stay healthy. And that's the soft tissue injuries, but that's also in the COVID world. And you do that by wearing a mask."

The COVID-19 precautions previously detailed for Halas Hall are in effect, with masks and social distancing.

Nagy was particularly concerned ahead of time with possible hamstring, calf or groin muscle strains because of the players' lack of offseason work due to COVID-19.

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"These guys haven't been with our strength coach at all this while offseason," Nagy said. "All of that ties into together and I like the pace. By the end of the way it is scheduled, the Phase 2 and the walk-throughs, I feel like the guys mentally are gonna have a ton of great mental reps and when we put those pads on for the first time and they start thumping, I think it’s gonna be a really good plan."

Nagy pointed to two players who particularly impressed him with conditioning, including his key veteran 350-pound defensive end.

"So I couldn't see everybody, but of the ones that I happened to walk by was Akiem Hicks, who I've seen three years now of showing up at training camp and where's he's at, and all three have been very good, but I think this is the best one," Nagy said. "I mean, he showed up in great shape and I'm really proud of him. I know it's not easy.

"And then Cordarrelle Patterson, you know? He's the one that I walked by as well and he was ready for me to ask him how he's doing, because he looks good, too. There's more guys."

The schedule set down by the league and players association has teams gradually working toward full-contact practices.

"The Phase 2 ramp-up smart, I really think it is smart, and the players association and the league did a great job in making sure that we do that, we ramp up the right way and we prevent not only, you know, the COVID testing and positive, negatives, but also injuries as well," Nagy said. "So, we're slowly moving into it."

On Aug. 12 they'll begin ramping up from lifting and conditioning and walk-throughs to running plays without pads on and then wearing helmets and shells before they finally start padded fully practices Aug. 17.

"By the end of the way it is scheduled, the Phase 2 and the walk-throughs, I feel like the guys mentally are gonna have a ton of great mental reps and when we put those pads on for the first time and they start thumping, I think it’s gonna be a really good plan," Nagy said.

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