The interactions haven’t changed. There are plenty of stories and jokes, fist bumps and backslaps. There are quick thoughts about plays at random times.
And it all comes with a contagious energy.
‘‘[Coach John Fox] definitely has a personality to him,’’ said Bears center Will Montgomery, who previously has played for Fox with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. ‘‘He is personable. He treats you like a person.’’
Fox’s ways of endearing himself to players are renowned across the NFL and seemingly make him the ideal coach for the Bears after a troubling time.
Fox inherits a locker room that broke apart under former coach Marc Trestman last season. It was toxic at times, full of finger-pointing and eye-rolling.
‘‘He’s the perfect guy for our team, exactly what we need,’’ said veteran receiver Eddie Royal, who played for Fox with the Broncos in 2011. ‘‘He’s firm when he needs to be, but he’s also laid-back at the same time.’’
A lack of accountability seemed to be an issue under Trestman, especially when players started to call out teammates through the media after losses. But it won’t be under Fox, who told them to be on their best behavior when his offseason program ended Thursday.
‘‘I just think you know where you stand,’’ Montgomery said. ‘‘He’s not going to BS anybody. If you’re the guy, you’re the guy. If you’re not the guy, you’re not. If you’re the next man, you’re the next man up. It’s very cut-and-dry.’’
It helps that Fox has a cleaner slate than Trestman had in his first season. Fox isn’t replacing a revered coach in Lovie Smith, whose firing after a 10-6 season sent shock waves through Halas Hall. There were players Trestman never was going to win over.
Trestman’s primary focus, though, was to fix the Bears’ offense and to work with quarterback Jay Cutler. That makes Fox seem more inclusive.
‘‘[Fox is] walking around, talking to everybody [and] getting to know everybody,’’ defensive tackle Will Sutton said. ‘‘He’s just a guy who is always upbeat. He’s got a good attitude. He’s going to get us out here to work, but he’s going to joke around with us a little bit. But when it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s time.’’
Fox’s outgoing personality makes him easy to follow.
‘‘He’s been awesome,’’ return specialist Marc Mariani said. ‘‘He’s just phenomenal. He approaches the game in such a way that guys are excited to come to work and guys are excited to get better.’’