Bears coach Matt Nagy made a point to compliment his players on being in great shape when the Bears conducted weigh-ins and the pre-training camp conditioning test this week.
“Our guys put in a lot of work her win the summer and you never know how that’s going to be when they come back,” Nagy said. “But they came back in really great shape — and they did awesome in the conditioning test.”
That was the good news.
The bad news was a first-day injury report that included three expected starters: safety Eddie Jackson was put on the non-football injury list with a hamstring injury he suffered during a workout; right tackle Germain Ifedi was put on the physically unable-to-perform list with a hip flexor he “tweaked” during the conditioning test; and rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins, the Bears’ second-round draft pick, did not practice because of back tightness.
Nagy said he “was not overly concerned” about Jackson’s injury and felt “pretty good” about Ifedi. Jenkins and Ifedi both were at practice Wednesday but did not participate. Outside linebacker Robert Quinn (back) and defensive end Bilal Nichols (toe) were limited.
Tight end Jake Butt, who signed with the Bears in the offseason, was put on the reserve/retired list after being unable to participate in training camp.
Wilkinson gets into the swing
Offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson, who started 26 games for the Broncos over the previous three seasons, figures to be a swing reserve with the Bears, but already is getting a workout. He played in front of Jenkins at left tackle and Ifedi at right tackle during OTAs and minicamp. He was at left tackle Wednesday with Jenkins out.
Jenkins and Ifedi still project as the starters, but Wilkinson is ready if needed.
“I came to camp to work my butt off and let the chips fall where they may,” said Wilkinson, an undrafted free agent from Massachusetts in 2017. “Being an undrafted guy, you never really know what’s going to happen — who’s going to start; who’s not. So you really can’t worry about that. You just gotta come to work and get your reps and make them count.”
‘It’s not a symposium’
After back-to-back 8-8 seasons, Nagy said he will step up the pace of practices this year to instill a laser focus in his players.
“You’re going to see and feel a team that practices hard,” Nagy said. “That emphasis is going to be on a different level than what you have seen in three years here with me. The practices are going to be fast. There’s going to be no walking around. Every rep is going to count. In 10 reps, you might see a starter get four reps, but those reps are going to be a hundred miles an hour. And if they’re not, they won’t be on the field. We’re going to use that [to prepare] for Sundays — and Sundays are going to be easy.”
Nagy plans to have a more watchful eye on the pace of practice than he has in previous years.
“I don’t think I was good enough at being a head coach and overseeing practices and the tempos of practices,” he said. “It’s going to be different this year.”