BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – When quizzed by a reporter Thursday at Bears training camp, Allen Robinson II declined to say whether he thinks he’ll top 1,000 yards this season. But it’s clear the veteran receiver intends to be an impact player in 2019.
“I don’t really get into numbers prediction-wise, but I definitely expect to have a big year,” Robinson said. “I have that expectation for myself. That’s what I trained for this offseason. I definitely expect to go out there, have some big games and help my team win a lot of games.”
After participating in OTAs and minicamp, Robinson appears primed to have a breakout season. He was unable to practice during the 2018 offseason while recovering from a torn ACL he sustained in the 2017 season opener with the Jaguars.
Robinson returned for training camp last year and ultimately caught 54 passes for a team-high 754 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. He capped his first season with the Bears with a monster game in a wild-card playoff loss to the Eagles, setting a franchise postseason receiving record with 143 yards.
“Looking at last season, even physically, even a little bit production-wise, I feel like as the season progressed, I continued to improve,” Robinson said. “I felt better. I think everything I was doing started to get a little more sharper. For me, that’s what it was about. Even now, just always continue to ascend.”
Jersey boys: Robinson arrived at training camp wearing a Washington Nationals road jersey with “Obama” on the back that the Bears receiver said he received as a gift from a friend.
Running back Tarik Cohen showed up in a navy Walter Payton No. 34 Bears jersey. Thursday would have been Payton’s 65th birthday. The legendary Hall of Famer, who was born on July 25, 1954, died of bile duct cancer on Nov. 1, 1999 at the age of 45.
Cohen, who turns 24 on Friday, discovered that Payton was born on July 25 when then-teammate Joshua Bellamy wore a No. 34 jersey during a previous training camp.
“His birthday is a day before mine, so I feel like we coincide with each other,” Cohen said. “Both of us went to a HBCU, so I want to show him love on this day.”
Team guy: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is excited about working with new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who was hired in January after Vic Fangio left the Bears after four seasons to become Broncos head coach.
“If there was anybody that was going to replace Vic, it was Chuck,” Hicks said. “He’s a great team guy. He’s a great players coach. He is a great communicator. When you come into a situation like ours where we’ve already had a top defense, you have to come in and approach it like he has. I think he’s done a great job and I can’t wait to put it out there on tape.”
When Hicks was asked about his relationship with Pagano, he provided an interesting analogy.
“It's like dating, man,” Hicks said. “You can't just rush in, you know? You’ve got to let it grow, you’ve got to let it mature. One day we're probably going to have a beautiful relationship and we're getting to that point. So I think at this point we're just learning [about] each other. We have a great deal of respect for everybody on that unit, right? We'll see where it goes.”
Harris healthy: The Bears on Thursday activated undrafted rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Harris off the physically-unable-to-perform list. Harris had been dealing with a minor hamstring injury.
The Bears will conduct their first training camp practice at 3 p.m. Friday. It’s closed to the public. The first workout that’s open to fans begins at 8:15 a.m. Saturday.