DECATUR, Ill. – After recovering from offseason surgeries, tight end Trey Burton and receiver Anthony Miller are both expected to be ready to practice when the Bears report to training camp later this week in Bourbonnais.
“We’ll be smart with those guys and how we ramp them in like we always are,” general manager Ryan Pace said Sunday during a pre-camp press conference in Decatur. “But we expect to go into this training camp in a pretty healthy state.”
Burton underwent sports hernia surgery to repair a lingering groin injury that forced him to miss the Bears’ wild-card playoff game against the Eagles. In his first season with the Bears in 2018, Burton started all 16 games for the first time and set career highs in all receiving categories with 54 receptions, 569 yards and six touchdowns.
Miller, a 2018 second-round draft pick, had surgery to repair a shoulder injury that bothered him for much of his rookie year. The Memphis product showed his toughness throughout the season, fighting through the nagging injury to lead the Bears with seven touchdown receptions while catching 33 passes for 423 yards.
The Bears are scheduled to report to training camp at Olivet Nazarene University Thursday and conduct their first practice at 3 p.m. Friday. The first workout that’s open to the public is slated to begin at 8:15 a.m. Saturday.
Sitting out: While delivering the good news about Burton and Miller, Pace also revealed that safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is among three players who likely will begin training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.
But Pace added that Clinton-Dix, tackle T.J. Clemmings and defensive lineman Jonathan Harris all are expected to be on the PUP list for a short period of time. They can be activated and begin practicing at any point during training camp.
Clinton-Dix sustained a sprained knee late in the offseason program. Clemmings is returning from a knee injury he suffered last season with the Raiders. And Harris has a minor hamstring injury.
Full speed ahead: Pace expects the Bears defense to continue to make a smooth transition under new coordinator Chuck Pagano.
The unit ranked first in the NFL last year in several key categories under coordinator Vic Fangio, who left the Bears after four seasons to become Broncos head coach.
“I think based on what we saw in the offseason, it's exciting to see those guys go and I don't feel like we've skipped a beat,” Pace said. “I feel like they feed off Chuck’s energy and you see that out there.
“You also see some of those younger guys developing as we go forward. I feel like Bilal [Nichols] is getting better. Leonard Floyd is still getting better. Roquan [Smith] is getting better. Eddie [Jackson] is getting better. We have a young, talented defense that's improving as we go, and I think you can feel Chuck’s energy spreading through that defensive unit.”
High praise: Coach Matt Nagy on Sunday called Allen Robinson II “one of the top players I’ve ever coached” in terms of the veteran receiver’s talent, humility and professionalism.
“It’s important for our guys in that room to see how he does things,” Nagy said. “When you have players that treat the game and respect the game the way he does every day in practice, during the game, he's not a me guy. He doesn't care what his stats are. He just wants to win.
“He doesn't say a lot in the meeting room, but when I call on him or our coaches call on him for the question, he always has the right answer and it transpires on the field.”