The Bears are unlikely to hit the practice field until June, at the earliest, after the players announced they would not participate in any voluntary in-person practices because of concerns about coronavirus. Teams normally hold training programs and Organized Team Activities in the spring, and while those have always technically been voluntary, players rarely skip them.
“We saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year,” the statement read. “Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last-minute communication by the NFL.
“It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible.”
A statement from the Chicago Bears players: pic.twitter.com/AQNAqQwsQ2— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 15, 2021
The NFLPA has urged players around the league to boycott anything other than virtual OTAs and is pushing for the mandatory minicamps in June to be virtual as well.
The Bears had not announced their plans for spring work, but the NFL outlined the offseason Wednesday and included on-field drills beginning May 17, three weeks of traditional OTAs starting May 24 with teams having the option to go virtual instead and a fourth week for minicamp in mid-June.
The Bears did not hold any in-person practices last season, opting instead for meetings over Zoom.