How the Bears’ newest veterans are handling their orientation — on Zoom

Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is on his sixth NFL team, safety Tashuan Gipson his fourth. The newest Bears, though, never had an orientation like this.

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Then-Saints receiver Ted Ginn tries to make a catch against the Bears in October. The Bears signed the receiver to a one-year deal this week.

Then-Saints receiver Ted Ginn tries to make a catch against the Bears in October. The Bears signed the receiver to a one-year deal this week.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is on his sixth NFL team, safety Tashuan Gipson his fourth.

The newest Bears, though, never had an orientation like this.

From their homes out-of-state, they spent the week sitting in front of a computer — Ginn has a miniature basketball hoop on the door behind him, Gipson a pool table —and participating in offseason meetings via Zoom video conferences.

“Just as far as like building a team, this is something new for everybody,” Ginn said. “I think, for coaches and players—I don’t care what level you’re on—you’re really sitting here doing a virtual meeting.

“It’s a different feel. I see the comfortability in it, but in the same sense, you know, there’s no physical action, there’s no really doing the things that you really do in this time to be with your team.”

Ginn said position coach Mike Furrey reminds him of Saints coach Sean Payton — his over-caffeinated meetings are “get-in, get-out,” so long as players are paying attention. Head coach Matt Nagy, he said, seems down-to-earth — at least over a video chat.

The meetings aren’t “as awkward as one would think,” Gipson said.

“These are the ways that you communicate and build relationships and bond right now,” he said. “Everything has been pretty smooth. Obviously, you would like to be able to be in person and add that face-to-face camaraderie, because that’s how you build relationships. But right now, as it stands, this is what we are forced to do. …

“Learning has been just as easy as if we were in the classroom. Everything —obviously, besides the physical part —has been what I expected and what I heard.”

Coaches tout offseason programs as the time for players to learn the playbook and bond with each other, in that order.

“Once we get together, that’s when the real jelling is going to be able to happen,” Gipson said. “Obviously, I’m going to be behind from a chemistry standpoint until we’re able to be around each other collectively.”

To replace the offseason program, the NFL has allowed team meetings and workouts, both of which are conducted from afar, with players receiving their usual bonuses and stipends for their participation.

After starting April 20, the Bears just finished the first three-week chunk of their virtual offseason — which lasted four days per week, two hours per day. Veterans will return for more sessions starting May 18, while rookies are participating in a virtual minicamp this weekend.

“Then they’re going to go back with the older guys, and I think it’s going to be important that the coaches do a good job through their computers of having everybody introduce who they are,” Nagy said after the draft. “It’s certainly different — you’re not sitting side by side and having conversations — but they’ll adjust and then we’ll readjust when we get to training camp.”

Whenever that is. Because of the coronavirus, no one knows when the full 90-man roster can gather again at Halas Hall.

To stay in shape, Ginn rides his bike 20-30 miles every two or three days. Gipson is having his 7-year-old son do football training drills, running up hills and in sand pits.

That will have to do — until they can gather with their teammates again.

“It’s super-important to try to establish that relationship through those Zoom meetings, the interaction between them—reaching out to guys personally and just trying to get a feel for them, let them get a feel for you,” Gipson said. “Obviously, these are extreme, different circumstances. It’s going to be a little different.”

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