BOURBONNAIS — The real football begins Saturday.
Or, as real as a practice can get.
For the first time in training camp, the Bears will take the field in pads Saturday at Olivet Nazarene University.
“It definitely will be different, man,” said defensive end Jaye Howard, who is recovering from a hip injury. “Everyone looks good in shorts — but some guys disappear when you put on pads.”
NFL rules mandate the team not be in pads until the third day of camp. The Bears have written extra walk-throughs into their schedule this year, hoping to stay healthy, but there’s nothing like the pop of pads.
“The real football starts (Saturday),” coach John Fox said. “We haven’t done that for quite some time.”
Center Hroniss Grasu, who tore his ACL at Family Fest last year and missed the season, said he was excited to return to pads.
“Not much changes for us (offensive linemen), but you put the shoulder pads on and it’s just a little bit more protection for us on our shoulders,” he said. “And you get to just go and hit someone without really having to think about protecting your shoulder or their shoulder. You always want to protect each other’s teammates. …
“It’s always good times.”
Saturday will mark Mitch Trubisky’s introduction to a padded NFL practice. The No. 2 overall pick will address the media afterward for the first time in training camp.
Tight end Adam Shaheen, the Bears’ second pick, said he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I’m just excited to go out there and get better day by day,” he said, “especially now that we have pads on.”