Mistake-filled conclusion to camp shows Bears still need work
Maybe it was the anticipation of getting out of Bourbonnais Sunday, but the Bears finished their last practice at Olivet Nazarene University with dropped passes, a shoving match, a Mitchell Trubisky pick-6, more missed kicks and an erruption from offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
Time to go home, guys.
"That'll be our last practice here at camp," coach Matt Nagy said. 'I thought we, ya know, some of the guys were decent practice-wise. The tempo was good. But just some mental exhaustion right now from the guys in regards to getting in and out of the huddle. Kind of normal, but we expect a little bit better at times.
"We'll see where we're at when we get back to Halas and we practice. I think, the other thing too is seeing how our guys react to a little bit of frustration from the coaching staff at times. That's always good. They understand. So we'll put the tape on and go from there."
Hiestand berated the backup offensive line on the sidelines at a practice closed to the public, and did it in a loud manner.
"They get it, they've seen coaches get on them before," Nagy said. "That's not a first time. They react well. And they're all, again, I'm going to always revert back to that when you have high character people, they can handle that.
"If you have a bunch of bad people or turds, they don't. And we don't have turds on this team."
The practice didn't stink completely, but the dropped passes were unusual. Tarik Cohen, Marvin Hall and Ben Braunecker were among those with drops. The Bears had only 12 dropped passes last season, fifth-best total in the league.
"That's where you've got to be mentally strong," Nagy said. "That's just really focusing into the very end. You try to bring in the catch and then the run."
The Bears had one less wide receiver chasing passes. Anthony Miller sat out practice after suffering a right ankle sprain in Saturday's practice. Nagy said it isn't expected to keep Miller out of the season opener. Tight end Trey Burton ran some on the side but didn't practice, but tight end Adam Shaheen is back after missing Thursday's preseason opener with back soreness.
The kickers went out in Bourbonnais without impressing anyone.
"They're probably exactly where I thought they'd be," Nagy said. "I mean, it's one preseason game. I'm anxious to see how this thing is going to go after four total preseason games and really hopefully they can get some decent attempts and we get a feel for it."
After three misses from Eddy Pineiro and two from Elliott Fry, it almost seems the two have to be more worried about losing the job to someone from the outside. Rumors about the Bears' interest in Baltimore's extra kicker Kaare Vedvik had circulated, but he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon.
It doesn't preclude the Bears from finding someone else who has excelled in preseason. Carolina's Joey Slye went 3-for-3 at Soldier Field Thursday, including a 55-yarder.
"That's what you know going into any situation, whether you're a 10-year veteran: If you don't perform, teams are going to look elsewhere," Fry said. "You know you're not just competing against the guy here. You are competing. We've known that the whole time."
The shoving incident occurred at mid-practice between Akiem Hicks and Kyle Long. It was easily the most serious one of camp but not much by comparison to past camp fights. Nagy commended players for not letting it get out of hand and understood Hicks' frustration.
"He's a competitive guy," Nagy said. "I never want to take that away from him. So I think that's probably one of his strengths, that he is so competitive and he wants to win every one on one battle and when he gets double-teamed he wants to win.
"But as I tell every player, let's just go through. Everybody let's understand the significance. Fights. You start throwing punches, that's where you can break your hand or you hurt your … we don’t need that and they didn't do that. He gets it. He's a true professional."