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Sense of urgency nothing new to Raymond


For most football players, training camp is somewhat of a return to a past life.

They stay in dorms, spend their days studying, and focus on one singular focus. The entire experience is a hybrid of college football and boot camp.

Rookie tight end Dax Raymond has a different frame of reference: the Missionary Training Center in his hometown of Provo, Utah.

Coming out of high school, Raymond delayed his football career to go on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Russia. For Raymond, as with most Mormon missionaries, the journey began at the MTC.

"You're just on a schedule," said Raymond. "Not that you become a robot, but you're on an exact schedule. In that way, the MTC and Bourbonnais were somewhat similar."

Raymond spent the maximum amount of time at the training center, which like Bears training camp, is tucked into the campus of a private religious school. If he had been called on an English-speaking mission, he would have stayed for only two weeks. If he had learned a Latin-based language, such as Spanish, French, or Italian, his stay would have been extended to six.

But given the lack of linguistic connection between English and Russian, Raymond was given eight full weeks to learn enough of the language to survive on the ground in Vladivostok, while also taking in a level of ecclesiastical training that would be at home in a divinity school.

Which should be roughly equal to mastering coach Matt Nagy's playbook.

For Raymond, the most significant similarity might be a sense of urgency.

"There's no time to slack," said Raymond. "You can't be late to anything. You just got to go out and do what you can."

Raymond, who signed with Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Utah State, is fighting for a spot on a team that returns Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker. 

Raymond has had been locked in a crowded battle for reps with converted tackle Bradley Sowell, as well as three other rookies: Ian Bunting, Jesper Horsted and Ellis Richardson. For these players, the next few weeks will be their last opportunity to separate themselves.

"For the most part I've liked where they're at," said Nagy when asked about the young tight ends last week, "but we're really going to be able to evaluate them in the preseason."

Raymond saw early action in the Bears' first preseason game against the Panthers, recording a six-yard catch. He'slooking forward to proving himself this Friday against the Giants.

"What they want to see is just consistency," said Raymond. "Whether it's in the run game or pass game, that's what I need to do."

More than most, Raymond knows what it's like to work on a time crunch.