10 observations from Bears training camp
BOURBONNAIS -- After 18 practices at Olivet Nazarene University, the Bears will move their preseason operation back to Halas Hall after two days of joint practices with the Broncos in Denver Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a Saturday night game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Still-unsigned first-round draft pick Roquan Smith got nothing out of the Bourbonnais experience, but coach Matt Nagy began the process of creating a new culture for a franchise that has muddled through four consecutive last-place seasons in the NFC North.
There was plenty of good and bad, including these 10 observations from training camp that stood out.
1. Mitch Trubisky and the first-team offense are not close to being in sync.
It wasn't just the eight snaps in last week's disjointed performance in Cincinnati that were concerning. Throughout camp, the offense rarely displayed any crispness; Trubisky was frequently intercepted and often held the ball too long. The second-year QB looked much better later in camp than he did early, but the guess is he'll need lots of reps in the next two preseason games before the offense operates with any degree of cohesion.
2. WR Allen Robinson is the real deal.
Everything about the fifth-year player screams "go-to guy." He has yet to play in the preseason, but he practiced more in Bourbonnais than expected after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in September.
"Every single day, he treats it like it's his last day," Nagy said. "When he's out here, he's running in and out of the huddle. He's focused (even) when he's not in the play (and) in meetings. He doesn't have the highs and lows. He's consistently good at what he does. We've had scheduled days for him to continue to give his knee some rest, and that's been good for him, so we'll continue to ramp it up a little bit more as we go, and we'll have him ready to rock and roll for Week 1."
That assessment appears to be right on, and if Robinson is 100 percent for the opener, that alone makes Trubisky a much better quarterback.
3. The Bears are not yet as calloused as they need to be.
"We're not there yet with the callous," Nagy said when the Bears broke camp. "But after this week with Denver, you're going to see it jump up a little bit just (because of) the competitiveness."
The day the Bears reported to camp, Nagy stressed the need to get tougher.
"We're going to have a physical camp," he said. "There's going to be some live action that goes on. The guys know that. We need to callous our team a little bit."
The live action may have been a bit overhyped, but there was enough physicality to make a point, while minimizing injuries.
4. Rookie Roquan Smith has already been adversely affected by his absence.
By missing all 18 practices, Smith is limited as to what he'll be able to contribute in Week 1, according to Nagy. Even if he signs Monday, he'll miss his third preseason game Saturday.
The eighth overall pick in the draft is getting horrible advice from his agents, who want assurance that he will not lose any guaranteed money because of suspensions from on-field activity. It's an idiotic issue for both sides to go to war over, since it hardly ever happens. The Bears have already said they won't go after any of Smith's money if he's suspended for violating the new tackling rules. They don't want to cave on the additional demands and set a dangerous precedent, but someone has to be the adult here.
5. OLB Leonard Floyd is primed for a breakout season.
"You just look at the body of work, (and) you're waiting for that moment where he just takes over the league -- and I think it's this year," DL Akiem Hicks said.
Floyd had a key QB pressure in the second preseason game, but was more impressive in one-on-one pass-rush drills during camp. More importantly for the injury-prone, third-year player, he was healthy throughout.
6. Cody Whitehair is the No. 1 center.
That's where he's started 28 times in his previous two NFL seasons, but he was mostly a guard at Kansas State. This year's second-round pick, James Daniels, was mostly a center at Iowa, but the Bears are projecting him to guard. That might seem backward to some, but the team seems committed to Whitehair in the middle.
"We like where Cody is," Nagy said. "Cody is doing a great job. The center is like playing quarterback. If you start moving guys around to different spots, now you're playing with fire, in my opinion."
7. Among the draft picks, WR Anthony Miller could have the most immediate impact.
The Bears' second second-round pick (51st overall) runs good routes, gets open, has great hands, is a tough runner after the catch and exudes the confidence of a ready-for-prime-time player. Yes, he's a bit undisciplined, but no one who watched him in Bourbonnais would be surprised to see him in the starting lineup against the Packers in four weeks.
8. As for the undrafted rookies, RB Ryan Nall is the pick to stick.
His 69-yard scamper vs. the Bengals put Nall on everyone's radar, but he showed up from the first week of camp, catching the ball, running with authority and showing more speed than expected from a 232-pound big back.
9. Kyle Long is on pace to be full strength by Week 1.
The three-time Pro Bowl pick was given several days off during camp to allow his body to heal properly after three offseason surgeries. But that was part of the plan to have him at 100 percent on opening day, and he's had no setbacks, so the plan is working. With Long at right guard, the O-line is a strength; without him, the entire offense will suffer.
10. Prince Amukamara will not reach his goal of 10 interceptions
But the eighth-year veteran cornerback with just seven career picks might come closer than a lot of critics expect. He's dedicated to the task and is putting in the extra time to improve his hands and anticipation. The last Bear with nine interceptions was Tim Jennings in 2012, and before that, he also had just seven picks (in six seasons).