BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – It was evident Saturday that Bears fans are thrilled about their team’s resurgence last year and are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.
An enthusiastic crowd of 8,385 attended the Bears’ first training camp workout that was open to the public at Olivet Nazarene University. They ringed the practice fields, wore their favorite player’s jersey and cheered loudly.
“What we just experienced as a team—as players and coaches—coming out to that sea of fans and everybody out there,” said coach Matt Nagy, “I don’t even know how to put it into words how much that means to us on just who our fans are, what our city is all about. It literally gives you goosebumps.
“They’re just so excited to get this thing going again, so I just want to say thank you from our players and our coaches to this whole city, to all of our fans, to everybody here that shows support. I’m sorry if we didn’t get everybody with autographs, but we do appreciate it and we make it known to our players what it means.”
Stepping up: Having recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, second-year receiver Anthony Miller excelled in practice Saturday for the second straight day. The 2018 second-round pick from Memphis provided a highlight by catching a long pass from Chase Daniel down the right sideline.
“He’s very talented,” Nagy said of Miller. “Mentally for him in OTAs, him being out, that was the challenge for him. [But] he did a great job. So far, just in today’s practice and yesterday’s practice, you can see—he made that nice catch down the sideline—he’s very talented.”
Bombs away: Third-string quarterback Tyler Bray threw a pair of long touchdown passes in Saturday’s practice. He hit receiver Tanner Gentry—who leapt over cornerback Stephen Denmark to snare the ball along the left sideline—and receiver Thomas Ives down the right sideline.
Injury update: Nagy characterized the hamstring injury that rookie receiver Riley Ridley suffered in Friday’s practice as week-to-week.
“I wouldn’t use the word severe,” Nagy told reporters. “I’m not going to get into details, but I’m not overly concerned. Any time you start getting into these with the muscles and hamstrings and that sort of thing, they always take a little bit of time. You guys know from last year I’m always cautious with those.”
Mack attack: Outside linebacker Khalil Mack put his All-Pro pass-rushing skills on display during a two-minute drill, generating what would have most likely been two sacks in a game.
Nagy was asked about Mack ruining the drill for the offense.
“He was kind of angry at coach Chilly (Brad Childress), who was our referee, for not calling a sack early on in the two-minute stuff,” Nagy said. “But he gets it. He understands there’s some things we can’t do on offense either. I’d like him to keep ruining our drills. I’m OK with that.”