After nearly three months away, Bears players returned to Halas Hall en masse Monday for the start of the voluntary offseason program.
"I'm excited," said linebacker Trevis Gipson. "The coaching staff has great energy, the guys coming back have great energy. I think there's something that just feels different about this year. Being back at Halas Hall for the first day, it's exciting and energetic, and it feels fun."
Since the end of last season, the Bears have hired a new general manager in Ryan Poles and an entirely new coaching staff led by Matt Eberflus.
"I would say the first day of school is a good comparison simply because I've never met these coaches, they've never met me," Gipson said. "You get to create a first impression that could possibly last the rest of your career. I think that's exciting to be able to see the different types of personalities that guys are bringing to the table with the grit and the overall toughness that this team plans on having."
In addition, the Bears have signed 10 unrestricted free agents since the start of the new league year March 16: quarterback Trevor Siemian, center/guard Lucas Patrick, guard Dakota Dozier, receivers Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown, fullback Khari Blasingame, defensive tackle Justin Jones, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, linebacker Nicholas Morrow and safety Dane Cruikshank.
"It's really exciting to get back," said tight end Cole Kmet. "There are a lot of new faces, so I'm just kind of getting to know everybody. It's really exciting and there's a lot of new energy in here."
“You get to create a first impression that could possibly last the rest of your career.” Bears LB Trevis Gipson
NFL teams with new head coaches were allowed to begin their offseason programs Monday, two weeks before clubs with returning coaches. Of the 10 teams with new head coaches, only the Bears, Saints, Giants and Dolphins started Monday. The others—the Buccaneers, Saints, Vikings, Jaguars, Raiders and Texans—will begin next Monday.
During the first two weeks of the offseason program—known as Phase 1—activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehab, with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field with players. Helmets are prohibited, and footballs are permitted on the field only for quarterbacks throwing to receivers provided they are not covered by other players.
"When you're home, you work out and you have all the rest of your day to do stuff," said tackle Teven Jenkins. "It was kind of getting boring after a while, so I was very excited to come back here and see everybody. Today was very informative, setting the tone to understand why and what you're about to be doing. That's a huge part about what is important to us going forward.
"It kind of felt like the first day of school, when you're getting a new coach, getting a new strength staff and all that. It was fun introducing myself to a lot of people and getting to meet all the new guys."
Take a look as Bears players arrive at Halas Hall for Phase One of the team's voluntary offseason program.