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Quick Hits: Eberflus 'keeping his promise'

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus

Matt Eberflus is proving to be a man of his word.

Shortly after being hired as Bears coach in January, he cautioned players that living and breathing his "HITS" principle would be the hardest thing they've ever done. HITS is an acronym for "Hustle, Intensity, Takeaways and (playing) Smart."

Multiple players described Friday's practice as the most grueling of training camp. Eberflus called Saturday's workout "a carbon copy."

"He's keeping his promise," said linebacker Nicholas Morrow. "That's for one, and then for two, he wants to make it hard enough that when you get to the game, it's not as hard or maybe you've had that intensity before, then you can adapt to it."

The message that Eberflus is sending in his first year as Bears coach is crystal clear.

"If you want to be a good football team, you have to have mental and physical stamina," Eberflus said. "And to build that callous, to build that stamina, you have to go through hard, and you can't do it by going through soft. 

"That's just what our practices do. So the tempo which we practice, how we execute with speed, and what we're asking in the standards that we're asking our players to do, that builds that mental and physical stamina."

Injury update: Eberflus revealed that receiver Byron Pringle will be sidelined with a quad injury "a little bit longer" than a few days. But the Bears coach doesn't expect Pringle's absence to extend into the regular season. 

"I don't think so," Eberflus said. "It's longer than day-to-day, so that's all I can say, but no real timetable to return. But we're hopeful that it's a good situation for us."

Receiver N'Keal Harry exited Saturday's practice with an injury. When Eberflus spoke to the media shortly after the workout ended, he was still waiting for an update on Harry's condition. 

"I don't know much," Eberflus said. "I just saw him come down. I saw the play and I don't really know much from there. We're obviously going to do the evaluation and then once I get that, we can get it back to you. And if it's a longer situation, we'll let you know what it is. If it's day-by-day, we'll say that, too."

Stepping up: The Bears were thin at receiver Saturday. In addition to Pringle and Harry, rookie Velus Jones Jr. and fifth-year pro Dante Pettis did not practice.

One player who took advantage of increased reps was veteran Tajae Sharpe, who made a couple of impressive catches from quarterback Justin Fields. Sharpe opened training camp on the non-football injury list before being removed last Tuesday.

"When you have a guy step up like that, that's awesome," Eberflus said. "That's what it's all about, right? Guys go down, guys step up and Tajae did a nice job. We're excited to have him back. He's back now and he looks good in the drills."

Sharpe signed with the Bears May 12. He has appeared in 66 NFL games with 36 starts for the Titans (2016-19), Vikings (2020) and Falcons (2021), catching 117 passes for 1,397 yards and eight touchdowns. Last year he played in 15 games with seven starts for Atlanta, recording 25 receptions for 230 yards.

Be prepared: For the second straight day, the Bears ran some drills against scout teams.

"You have to do that because in pro football you have different front variations, different protection rules and those types of things," Eberflus said. "And then on defense, you face different quarterbacks during the course of the year that sometimes will do more quarterback runs than normal, and you really have to have your rules down for that, so that's why we did that."

Roster moves: The Bears on Saturday signed linebacker DeMarquis Gates and waived/injured linebacker Christian Albright.

Gates originally entered the NFL with the Browns in 2018 as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi. But he was waived before training camp. He has also spent time with Washington (2019) and the Vikings (2020) but has not appeared in an NFL regular-season game. This spring, Gates was named All-USFL after helping the Birmingham Stallions win the USFL championship.

On Sunday, the Bears signed linebacker Javin White and waived/injured linebacker C.J. Avery.

White has appeared in six NFL games, all as a reserve, in two seasons with the Raiders (2020-21) and Jets (2021), compiling four tackles. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent from UNLV.

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