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Matt Nagy prioritizes secrecy, health as Bears open preseason vs. Panthers

Khalil Mack & Co. probably will be just fine without preseason games.

Don’t expect much, if anything, from Mitch Trubisky against the Panthers.
[Brian O’Mahoney/For the Sun-Times]

BOURBONNAIS — The preseason is all about health and secrecy for Bears coach Matt Nagy, so he’ll reveal as little as possible in the opener Thursday.

The Bears will host the Panthers, who will hold out quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly. Nagy wasn’t so revealing after practice Tuesday, but it’s likely he’ll keep the majority of his starters out or limit their snap counts.

‘‘We’re going to do some good things, and . . . it’s going to be nice to see where some of our other guys are at depthwise,’’ he said.

The Bears played five preseason games last summer because of the Hall of Fame Game, and Nagy was careful with his key players in the first three games before essentially shutting them down for the last two.

That worked well for the Bears, considering how few significant injuries popped up last season, so they might as well do it again. They already have one issue with tight end Trey Burton, who missed practice again as he works his way back from a sports hernia.

Teams are inclined to keep everything as basic as possible in preseason games to avoid showing anything that might help regular-season opponents scout them.

So even if quarterback Mitch Trubisky gets a series or two Thursday, the Bears probably won’t run anything complicated and the Panthers probably won’t confront him with exotic coverages. He’s getting more out of practice than he would in any preseason game.

The same goes for the Bears’ defense. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack doesn’t seem like he needs any extra work. He’s looking forward to watching the young players get their chance.

‘‘I hope to see dominance, man — dominance no matter who is on the field,’’ Mack said. ‘‘Ultimately, even if you don’t end up being here, you’re putting that good film on display for the whole league to see.’’

Mack raised a good point about outside interest. The first preseason game has been the unofficial start to the micro-trade season since the NFL changed its roster-cut deadlines to allow teams to keep 90 players until the end of the preseason.

When outside teams see someone they like in the preseason, they can trade for them — usually a seventh-round pick — rather than wait until the end of the month and chance it with the waiver wire.

Predictably, that only makes Nagy even more tight-lipped. He refused to mention any Bears reserves he’s looking forward to watching Thursday out of fear that it might attract attention from competitors.