Bears WR Byron Pringle eager to move past reckless-driving arrest

Pringle, who figures prominently in the Bears’ plans for 2022, is on a one-year deal and out to prove he’s still on the rise.

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A photo of new Bears wide receiver Byron Pringle at a recent practice.

Pringle had career highs in catches (42), yards (568) and touchdowns (five) last season.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Bears wide receiver Byron Pringle offered no regrets or anything else in his first public comments about his arrest on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and driving with a suspended license in April.

Pringle spoke after minicamp practice Wednesday but said little about the incident.

“No thoughts on it,” he said.

When asked about making a poor impression early in his time with the organization, Pringle added, “I’m just a hardworking man. I love the game. Things happen.”

He continued after the news conference by tweeting, “I’m just here to play football, not answer [clown emoji] questions.”

Florida Highway Patrol arrested Pringle in Pasco County, where he lives in the offseason, for doing donuts on a public road in his 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and found that his license had been suspended in February. Their report said a child, which TMZ reported was his son, was in the back seat and that Pringle was “verbally confrontational” during the arrest.

Pringle declined to clarify any aspect of the incident, saying, “Whatever you read in the media is all good — whatever it says.”

He pleaded not guilty, and his case remains open. His pretrial conference is scheduled for July 5, according to Pasco County records.

General manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus seem similarly inclined to move on from the incident.

Poles said shortly after the arrest that “it’s a disappointment” but maintained that it was “not a reflection of who he is at all.” Eberflus considered him one of the offensive bright spots in minicamp.

“He’s got a strong set of hands to catch it in traffic, and he does a good job [with] yards after catch,” Eberflus said. “He can break some tackles. You can feel his strength. We like where he is.”

Pringle, who signed a one-year, $4.1 million contract, is hoping to get his big break as a primary target for the Bears after three years as a role player with the Chiefs.

He played almost half their snaps last season and set career highs with 42 catches for 568 yards and five touchdowns. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in March that Pringle was “still on the rise” even at 28 because of his work ethic.

Pringle is motivated by the slights he feels he has endured during his career, which began at Butler Community College in Kansas. He transferred to Kansas State, went undrafted — something he referenced Wednesday — and finally made the Chiefs’ 53-man roster partway through his second year.

The Bears cleared out most of their wide receivers in the offseason and are betting on Darnell Mooney and Pringle to lead the way as reliable options for quarterback Justin Fields.

It’s a high-stakes gamble because it’s unclear whether they have any other weapons at the position. Velus Jones is an unproven third-round pick, Equanimeous St. Brown had nine catches for the Packers last season, Dante Pettis totaled 25 catches over the last three seasons and Tajae Sharpe had 25 catches for the Falcons in 2021.

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