Bears coach Matt Nagy was impressed with what he saw from the team’s rookies throughout the course of the offseason program.
“The biggest thing would be that they’re just all extremely mature,” Nagy said. “That’s probably what comes to mind. They take being mature out onto the practice field. They look to improve.”
Montgomery showed the same versatility in two minicamps and 10 OTA practices that he displayed as a productive three-down back at Iowa State, where he appeared in 37 games in three seasons, rushing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns on 624 carries and catching 71 passes for 582 yards.
Ridley is a precise route-runner who played in 28 games in three years at Georgia, catching 69 passes for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“[Montgomery] is quiet, but yet he’s so motivated,” Nagy said. “Riley Ridley has come out here and with Anthony Miller being out [while recovering from shoulder surgery], he’s gotten a lot more work at the ‘zebra’ position. That kid is just so laser-focused. That’s just the first two that we’re talking about, but [I’m] very, very impressed with that class.”
Good advice: One highlight for Nagy during the recent Bears100 Celebration was spending 45 minutes speaking with Hall of Famer Mike Ditka.
“He’s a guy that I appreciate,” Nagy said. “He’s always himself. He doesn’t try and be different for anybody. That’s stating the obvious.
“He gave me a good piece of advice when we were sitting down. He was chewing his gum and he said, ‘There are really good football players and then there are not so good players. Get rid of the not so good players.’
“That’s pretty easy, so that’s what I want to do. I just don’t want to have not so good players. The more good players we can have, then I guess you can win a Super Bowl.”
Frosting on cake: Khalil Mack's face lit up with a huge smile when he was told that Bears owner Virginia McCaskey had recently called his acquisition in a blockbuster trade with the Raiders last Sept. 1 “the frosting on the cake.”
“That’s amazing,” said the All-Pro outside linebacker. “It’s real special. It’s something I prayed and thanked God about. I know how blessed I am, and I’m so appreciative to have this opportunity. But I’ve got to make the most of it, and the most of it would be getting to the big game.”
Mack felt that Bears players formed a close bond during the offseason program, something that he believes is paramount to team success.
“Those things add up,” Mack said. “Those are huge. You’ve got guys in the building and they’re around each other, joking, building that friendship and brotherhood. I feel like that’s the most important thing during these times.”
Summer break: With the offseason program concluding last Thursday, Nagy sent his players into their down time with a message about “how they need to stay out of the newspapers in these five weeks and make sure that they understand that they come back ready to go.”
Bears players won’t convene again until the start of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in late July. Until then, Nagy wants them to enjoy their time off and get their minds off football.
“When we come back, we’re rolling and it’s go time and so they’ve got to make sure that they get their family time in, their own time in,” Nagy said. “But they've got to also train and stay in shape so that when they come back we don't lose any of the stuff that we just built in the last two months. And we have guys that will do that, and it's just exciting.”