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Training Camp Report

Graham shines in spirited training camp practice


Bears free-agent acquisition Jimmy Graham stood out in practice Tuesday for the second straight day, making several impressive catches in 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

The five-time Pro Bowl tight end celebrated after some of those plays by chucking the ball about 30 yards or dunking it over the crossbar—much to the delight of coach Matt Nagy.

"That's energy," Nagy said. "That's the swagger we need on offense. We need that energy, that guy that has that fire, and there's nothing wrong with that. We're talking every day about being as competitive as we possibly can in every single period. It's all in love. It's all in fun. Nothing's malicious. But you need to have that.

"We're going to go out there and we're going to let our personalities show. We're going to be us and be who we are. I love that element and that dimension that he brings to this offense. We want more of that, so maybe when guys see how that works, when he has a good play like that, or when you have a bad one, you come back the next play. Jimmy's an experienced vet. He's been through a lot. I think the guys on our team, not just our offense, are respecting that and liking that."

Quarterback Nick Foles certainly liked Graham's performance in Tuesday's practice.

"I thought Jimmy had a great day of work and really showed why he's been such a great player in this league for so long," Foles said.

Graham signed with the Bears in March after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Saints (2010-14), Seahawks (2015-17) and Packers (2018-19), catching 649 passes for 7,883 yards and 74 touchdowns. Since he entered the league in 2010, his games played and receiving yards are the most among NFL tight ends, while his receptions and touchdown catches both rank second.

In the Bears' first two padded practices of training camp this week, the 6-7, 265-pounder has displayed his size, strength and athleticism.

"Jimmy has been awesome," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "You look at him and he's just a specimen. Once you get to know him, you get to see how smart he is, how cerebral he is about the game and his experience. I mean, there's a reason he's been around for this long.

"A guy like him and [veteran receiver] Ted Ginn, it's so crucial for our young receivers and tight ends to watch them, see their practice habits, to see how they see the game and just to try to absorb that knowledge and experience that they've carried with them. The way they take the practice field is definitely contagious and I think our young guys can learn a lot from them, looking up to those guys and seeing how they practice every day."

Being smart: Graham was involved in a scuffle Tuesday when he took exception to being tackled by safety Deon Bush. The play occurred during a "thud" period in which ballcarriers are not supposed to be taken to the ground.

"We talked about it afterwards, after practice, just guys being smart," Nagy said. "We talked about being competitive but not combative. It's all love for one another. Everybody's good. They're just playing ball, and I think it's a learning lesson."

Both Graham and Bush attended the University of Miami (but not at the same time).

Taking turns: After Trubisky took the first reps in drills Monday, it was Foles' turn to do so Tuesday. It's all part of the Bears' plan to conduct their starting quarterback competition on a level playing field.

"What we're doing is we're alternating each day as to who starts with the first group of that period," Nagy said. "It keeps it consistent. We're trying to split up the reps as evenly as we can."

Both quarterbacks delivered solid performances for a second straight day, with little to differentiate one from the other.

Burns injured: Cornerback Artie Burns exited Tuesday's practice with what Nagy confirmed to be a left knee injury.

Burns, who signed with the Bears in March, is competing for a starting cornerback position opposite two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller.

Burns was selected by the Steelers with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Miami. He has appeared in 58 games with 32 starts over the past four seasons with Pittsburgh, recording 149 tackles, four interceptions and 27 pass breakups.

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