The Bears conducted the first of 10 scheduled OTA workouts Tuesday at Halas Hall, mixing their veterans and rookies on the practice field for the first time this year.
"It was fun to get everybody together," said outside linebacker Sam Acho, an eighth-year pro. "Yesterday we had a meeting with all the veterans and all the rookies and today we were on the field together. It's a process. We're all getting to know each other better. But it's fun to see more and more of what the team is going to look like."
Bears veterans have been working out at Halas Hall since April 3 when the offseason program began. The rookies arrived last Thursday night and participated in rookie minicamp Friday through Sunday before joining their veteran teammates this week.
"It's that time of the year and it's funny how fast it comes up on you," said veteran defensive end Akiem Hicks. "But once you get back out there with the guys again, it just feels like home."
It may feel like home to Hicks and other experienced players, but it no doubt will take the rookies some time to adjust to life in the NFL.
"It's so funny to see just how zoned in and focused they are because this is their first experience," Hicks said. "They're so locked in that I'll tell them a joke and they're like, ‘Uh, can I laugh?' But it comes with time and [they'll] get more comfortable [once they] get a grasp on the system. That's really what the big focus is for them, especially on our defense, is picking up all the stuff that everybody else already knows."
Rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts, a sixth-round draft pick from Utah, enjoyed practicing alongside some players he grew up watching.
"It was a lot faster than the rookie minicamp for sure," Fitts said. "Calls were coming in a lot faster. So you've got to really focus in and know your assignment and know your technique. But it felt good. After a few plays, I started getting used to it."
Acho is impressed with the strides the Bears rookies have already made.
"They seem really advanced," Acho said. "At least in our room, the OLB room, a lot of guys seem way ahead of what you would expect from a guy who's a week in or a couple of days in, so it's exciting."
Acho has fond memories of his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.
"I was treated really well thankfully," he said. "I knew guys that I could trust. [Safety] Adrian Wilson and [linebacker] Clark Haggans were two guys that really taught me well. People talk about treating others the way you want to be treated. I had veterans who treated me really well, so I want to do the same."
Hicks was a rookie with the New Orleans Saints in 2012.
"I was a real rookie," he said. "I carried the pads, I did all that stuff. Brodrick Bunkley, Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis were my veterans and I made sure all of them had a Gatorade on their desks when they'd come into meetings. Just making sure that you take care of your guys, that's your role as a rookie."