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Bears tight ends shine in first joint practice


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In the first of two joint practices with the Broncos, no position group delivered a more impressive performance than Bears tight ends.

Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker all made impressive catches in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills against Denver defenders.

"Give credit to coach [Kevin] Gilbride with working with those guys, especially in particular, in the passing game," said coach Matt Nagy. "They are targets that can move a little bit. They've got good hands. You can work them all over the entire field. We just want to make sure that we don't lose (sight of the) fact that you've got to be able to block, too."

Burton caught several passes from starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, highlighted by a deep throw over the middle. Shaheen's best reception also came on a pass from Trubisky, who hit the 6-6, 270-pounder in stride.

Braunecker generated the most plays among the tight ends. The third-year pro from Harvard caught a touchdown pass from Tyler Bray, made a nifty grab of a Daniel pass with Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell draped on his back and leaped high to snag another throw from Daniel.

"We really value that position and we want to use them as much as we can," Nagy said. "So far, I personally feel like they are passing the test. But we're only three weeks into this, preseason-wise, and so they've got to keep growing. They're more of [pass-catching] tight ends, but we want to make sure they can become [blockers] too."

Robinson ready: Nagy revealed Wednesday that receiver Allen Robinson II will make his preseason debut Saturday night against the Broncos.

Robinson has been practicing without restrictions since the beginning of training camp, but he has not appeared in a game since tearing his ACL in last year's season opener when he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Asked what he'd like to see from Robinson in this week's joint practices, Nagy said: "Make contested catches. He's done that his whole career. Now let's do it in this offense. We're slowly ramping him up to a position to where he feels confident in his own self with his knee, his mind with what he does on the play, but now making a play with a defender on him.

"Most of the catches in the NFL are contested. He's always been able to do that. Let's put it together in our offense and then continue with that trust and timing with Mitch."

Good day: Trubisky failed to connect on two deep passes intended for receivers Marlon Brown and Javon Wims early in practice, but the second-year quarterback generally displayed pinpoint accuracy the rest of the workout.

"He had a good day," Nagy said. "It's refreshing to play (against) some different looks, it really is. You just go through day-by-day a lot of the same coverages with our defense. Now you get something totally different on how maybe they play a specific formation. I thought, in particular 7-on-7, he threw some really good balls."

Productive practice: Fights seem to be common during joint practices throughout the NFL, but there wasn't even a brief skirmish Wednesday between the Bears and Broncos.

"That was a good day of practice there for both teams," Nagy said. "The biggest issue you run into these situations are sometimes tempers can get going, you get some fights that go on, and I thought it was really impressive by both teams—coaches, players, everybody—to keep the tempo exactly where it needs to be without anything stupid.

"That was a great day. We got better. I think they got better. It breaks up the monotony of practice like we talked about and you get some different looks defensively, they get some different looks offensively, so I'm glad we did this."

The Bears first practice in Denver with the Broncos ahead of their preseason game on Saturday.