There has been an odd feeling at Halas Hall this week as the Bears practice in spring-like weather for a game against the Vikings that has no stakes for either side.
And while Bears coach Matt Nagy is adamant about winning Sunday and finishing .500, the first step is just making sure players are paying attention.
“You want to keep the meetings lively,” he said Thursday. “Coming off the holiday . . . getting back in here today, you’ve got to just keep them going. . . . The biggest thing is just letting them understand this is pride and we’re going there to win.”
The atmosphere in the building is relatively light this week, but the Bears will dive fully into offseason evaluations and 2020 plans after they return from Minnesota.
For all the missteps this season, there was no hint of players checking out until the loss to the Chiefs last week, which came after the Bears had already been eliminated from playoff contention. Nagy criticized their focus and sharpness afterward but has mostly been pleased with his players’ effort and considers that one of the major positives of an otherwise exasperating season.
“That’s probably one of the biggest things is I saw the resolve they had, the connection that we had together with just going through adversity,” Nagy said. “We’re learning what it’s like to go through the lows. And it reveals a lot about people in a lot of different ways.”
The Chicago chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America presented its annual Good Guy Award to Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson for exemplary professionalism and availability to the media.
Robinson, who’s also having a stellar season on the field with 89 catches for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns, has consistently been a pro in his dealings with reporters regardless of the Bears’ struggles.
“There’s going to be ups and downs, but you can’t really let that waver how you feel and how you go about your business,” Robinson said. “There are going to be wins and there are going to be losses, but you have to understand that fans want to come see good football and the media has a job to do.”
With both teams dodgy about their plans for Sunday, it’s hard to tell what to expect from the Bears and Vikings.
Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and nose tackle Eddie Goldman remained in the concussion protocol and did not practice, virtually assuring they’re out. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks didn’t practice and is likely to miss a second consecutive game. The same goes for right tackle Bobby Massie, who has been out with an ankle injury for a month.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and right guard Rashaad Coward (knee) were limited Thursday.