Bears rookies eager to talk about their training-camp experiences

Written By BY GAVIN CROWELL AND STEPHANIE STREMPLEWSKI Staff Reporters Posted: 08/03/2014, 02:31am
Array College quarterback-turned-running back Jordan Lynch says center Roberto Garza ‘‘works his tail off, and he’s a true leader on and off the field.’’ | Nam Y. Huh/AP

BOURBONNAIS — There are high hopes for the Bears’ rookie class. From cornerback Kyle Fuller to punter Pat O’Donnell, there’s a chance many of them will play key roles this season.

But the transition from college to the NFL can be daunting, especially during a player’s first training camp.

Just ask them.

‘‘It’s definitely been a whirlwind,’’ safety Brock Vereen said.

The Sun-Times spoke with several of the Bears’ rookies at Olivet Nazarene University about their training-camp experiences. Here are some of the highlights:

Which veterans have been the most helpful?

Kyle Fuller, cornerback: ‘‘I definitely enjoy coming out here and competing with guys like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery every day. They are making me a better player.’’

Jordan Lynch, running back: ‘‘Since I play offense, I respect [center Roberto] Garza. Just a veteran guy, always doing the right thing. He works his tail off, and he’s a true leader on and off the field.’’

David Fales, quarterback: ‘‘Jay Cutler has been great. Anytime you have someone with the experience he does, with that ability and talent, it’s so helpful. He’s reached out to me on several occasions, which he didn’t have to do, so that means a lot.’’

Senorise Perry, running back: ‘‘In the running-back room, Matt [Forte] opened up his arms to us, and we’ve just been learning from him. From my position, I learn from Matt, watching his footwork. I watch Tony Fiammetta, as well. Tony provides a lot in the special-teams role.’’

Ego Ferguson, defensive tackle: ‘‘Jeremiah Ratliff and Jared Allen have been great. Anytime you get help from a guy who has 10-plus years of experience, they find a way to teach you something new every day.’’

How would you compare college to the Bears’ training camp?

Fales: ‘‘It’s a little bit of culture shock, but once you get your first snap out of the way, the jitters tend to disappear and you can just focus. That said, everything moves faster up here, and you just need to always be on top of your game. Understanding the playbook is one thing, but being able to execute on the fly with all these talented guys is quite another.’’

Vereen: ‘‘The dorm life is kind of like college all over again, except when you’re in the dorm here it’s strictly to get sleep. Whenever we’re not in the dorm, we’re out here working. Being in a dorm again is definitely not a refreshing experience, but it brings back more memories.’’

How would you describe quarterback Jay Cutler?

Christian Jones, linebacker: ‘‘He’s real cool under pressure. He’s got that same composure out there.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘Precise. Everything’s down to a science for him.’’

Will Sutton, defensive tackle: ‘‘Leader.’’

Ka’Deem Carey, running back: ‘‘Smart, down-to-earth, in it to win games and motivating.’’

What did you bring for your dorm room?

Fuller: ‘‘My pillow. I haven’t felt the need to take anything else. They’ve been taking such good care of us here.’’

Sutton: ‘‘I brought an Xbox to my room. But I have no TV, so it just kind of sits there.’’

Vereen: ‘‘My headphones. Anytime I’m stressed and tired, I just throw on some music for five or 10 minutes, and I’m good and fresh again.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘Just my playbook, iPad and cellphone to keep in contact with my family. You have to stay grounded and present in the moment, so no distractions.’’

Perry: ‘‘I didn’t bring much. I was just happy to be here. I brought my Beats Pill to listen to music. No TV, just the Beats Pill.’’

Carey: ‘‘I told my [fiancee] to bring me a blanket because it gets cold and they give us these little sheets to sleep on.’’

Any hazing experiences or ‘‘Welcome to the Bears’’ moments?

Carey: ‘‘The veterans tell me to get them sunflower seeds and stuff. I must have spent $45 getting seeds and snacks for the meetings. But there’s no hazing.’’

Ferguson: ‘‘I’m the designated water guy in the room, so I make sure everybody has drinks or coffee and things like that.’’

Sutton: ‘‘Well, I’m carrying [defensive lineman] Lamarr Houston’s pads right now, but I would have to say seeing all of these people out here is crazy.’’

How would you sum up the whole training-camp experience?

Lynch: ‘‘Surreal.’’

Pat O’Donnell, punter: ‘‘Dream come true. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make that dream into a reality.’’

Fales: ‘‘Exhilarating. Lots of new stuff to learn. The talent and wisdom from all these coaches mean that you’re learning something new each and every day.’’

Perry: ‘‘Hard work.’’

Vereen: ‘‘Fast. To be honest, it hasn’t really even settled in with me yet. You know, I feel like I’m still in catch-up mode, but I want to feel that way because I want to get to where some of these veterans are at.’’

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