After the Bears concluded their offseason program with a final minicamp practice last Thursday, coach Matt Eberflus urged players to remain in excellent shape heading into training camp.
"The summer for these guys is going to be important," Eberflus said, "and the message I said after practice to them was come back lean, fit and strong. I left them with, 'get your track shoes on,' like I started my first press conference, because we're going to be running once we get to training camp."
Bears players have about six weeks off before they return to Halas Hall for training camp. The report date is July 26, with the first practice scheduled for July 27. Unlike the old days when players were forced to work second jobs during the offseason, they're expected to arrive at camp in top physical condition.
"Training camp's not to get in shape," Eberflus said. "You should already be in shape. You should be ready to go for training camp because we are blowing and going from Day 1.
"That was my main message to them. And then to be safe. Be careful who you hang around and be mindful of that and where you are and to be safe during the vacation, this little time off."
While they're away from Halas Hall, Eberflus hopes that players will not only condition their bodies but their minds.
"We want them to grow both mentally and physically, not just in football but in life during the course of the offseason," he said. "The veterans have like 40 days before they come back. That's a good chunk of time to get better personally, get better physically and as a whole man to be able to do that in the offseason. Spend some good family time as well."
Eberflus intends to do just that during the down time with his wife, Kelly, and their daughters, Giada and Grace.
"It's family time for me and the girls," Eberflus said. "That's an important piece. I spend a lot of time reading. I will probably get through three books. I've got three already picked out. I'm going to read this summer. I do golf a little bit, so I will do some of that and then start reflecting on the season; setting your mind up for what is going to happen.
"There's going to be adversities for the season, and then how you're going to respond to that as a head football coach and as a football team. So, get your mind prepared for that. Take the notes that you have, that you're going through, and that's what I will be doing here, and then I will come back a week or so early to get set up for the camp, make sure schedules are all squared away."
Eberflus accomplished one of his main objectives during the offseason, which was establishing a culture at Halas Hall.
"The team coming together, I feel most comfortable with that," he said. "We're able to look each other in the eye and tell the truth, and it's OK. It's OK to be wrong. It's OK to be right. It's just honest communication. Man-to-man, face-to-face, no problems. And that's encouraging because you have to have that as a team because you have to be close that way, because you're going to have adversity and you've got to be honest with each other."
Check out the action from Halas Hall as the Bears hit the practice fields for the team's mandatory minicamp that featured special appearances by Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian and former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.