Fox sees progress as Bears close training camp
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) Coach John Fox saw plenty of progress from the Chicago Bears in training camp.
On the final day Sunday, Fox also saw a lot of players tired of practicing and of each other as three shoving incidents marred the final drills.
Still, he closed camp looking ahead past a few key injuries to practices in Indianapolis against the Colts prior to Saturday’s preseason game feeling much had been accomplished.
”I think our mindset is a little tougher,” Fox said. ”Some of the essences of football have been worked on, as far as run defense and run offense. The knowledge of our system has grown every time we’ve been out there. I think our tempo was something that was new to them.
”Those are the things that I saw that we made strides in.”
On Saturday, the Bears had announced rookie wide receiver Kevin White may miss a large part of the season, if not all of it, after a shin injury that he’ll have surgery for within the next week.
And on Sunday, Fox said receiver Alshon Jeffery remains day to day with a calf strain.
”As I said, even with Kevin at one point, he was day to day in the original plan to get him back – it’s no different with Alshon,” Fox said. ”It might be a couple days. I get an update every day. I’ll get one later tonight: how his treatment went, how he felt.
”According to the tests and the reports I’ve gotten, it’s not month to month (with Jeffery).”
On Sunday, Jeffery shed the crutches and boot-cast he had since the injury Wednesday, but it’s unlikely he’ll take part in practices at Indianapolis against the Colts this week.
”Sometimes doors close and that opens doors for other people,” Fox said. ”I mentioned to the team we went to the Super Bowl (in Denver, two years ago) and lost six starters, three Pro Bowlers, and still made it to the Super Bowl.
”They’re all big blows, you hate to see people getting injured, but it’s part of the game. You’ve got to deal with it. No one comes to rescue you. You better man up, or men up. Everybody’s got to play a little bit better and the new guys have got to step up.”
Without Jeffery and White, veteran free agent acquisition Eddie Royal moved to outside receiver from the slot position.
”I’ve been trying to learn the whole system just so if anything happens that I’ll be able to step in and play wherever,” Royal said. ”I think we’ve got a number of guys that are doing that just because you never know during the course of a season which guys are going to be up and which ones are going to be down, so a lot of us are preparing to play anywhere.”
The Bears did get third-string quarterback David Fales back to practice Sunday when he came off the training camp physically unable to perform list. He had been sidelined while recovering from an undisclosed illness since camp started.
Sunday’s final camp practice had three shoving matches break out during a full-contact portion of scrimmage.
Veteran nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff took a swing at center Will Montgomery. That dispute required Kyle Long to step in and mediate before Fox had to calm down both sides.
”I think every time I’ve been in full pads the last day of camp that’s how it’s been,” defensive end Jared Allen said.
Allen pointed out one camp when his first team, the Kansas City Chiefs, practiced against his second team, the Minnesota Vikings.
”That one got canceled – there were a lot of fights then,” he said. ”We used to do two-a-days and stay at the dorms with the Vikings when I was with the Chiefs. That was just a melee.
”It is what it is. It’s football. It’s an aggressive sport. You’re going to have aggression. Sometimes it gets a little chippy.”
A little levity didn’t hurt the tone of practice. When quarterback Jay Cutler lined up at wide receiver on one play, Royal completed a pass to him.
”It could use a little bit of work,” Royal said of the play. ”In the walkthrough I had to pass up on him and take my second read. But it all worked out in practice.”
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