Joniak: Bears Wrap Up Training Camp

Jeff Joniak
August 11, 2019 - 3:59 pm
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BOURBONNAIS (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Jeff Joniak has filed these reporter’s notebook items on the Bears’ final day at training camp in Bourbonnais.

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--Training camp is over, but there are still 25 days until the Bears kickoff against the Green Bay Packers in the 100th season opener at Soldier Field. Unpacking the three weeks in Bourbonnais begins with gold stars for the defense.  The unit ended what it started with stellar play across the board.

--The final practice in Bourbonnais was not as sharp as head coach Matt Nagy would have liked, however, he pointed to “mental exhaustion” for slowing the offense down a bit. There was some frustration release from coaches as they worked through the drills. Nagy felt the players handled it well. There were some dropped passes, but also some great catches. One by rookie Riley Ridley was one-handed, with a defender in his hip pocket. It is another sign of what he is capable of as a young receiver. Tarik Cohen outran coverage on a deep sideline route to the end zone, caught up to the perfect throw, but could not hang on. Cohen couldn’t believe it, and he was ticked off.   

--For a no-pad practice, it was quite intense and physical. 

--Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer awarded his camp defensive practice ball to All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson, the 30th ranked player in the league as voted on by his peers.  “His anticipation of interceptions,” Thayer explained. “His understanding of how he supports in the run game and the communication with the rest of the secondary.”  Jackson said recently he is looking for at least seven interceptions, and four touchdowns.

--Thayer’s offensive ball goes to rookie running back David Montgomery. “Everything that we’ve seen out of him,” Thayer said. “Quick feet, vision, and running the ball. The ability to catch the ball in a difficult position and then his ability to block. David Montgomery has an extremely high upside.”

--For now, kicking hopefuls Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry believe they are neck-and-neck in the race for a roster spot. Both had multiple misses Sunday, which raised a great point with Nagy. “We expect to make them every single kick, and if they don’t, we go back to the shoulder shrug because of our expectations,” Nagy said. “What’s real is that there is not a kicker in the world that makes every single kick.” 

--Pineiro calls the pressure “a little exhausting.” He said, “Every day you feel like, ‘Oh, damn, if I miss this kick, am I going to get cut? Are they going to trade for somebody else?’ I mean, it does get annoying. I can’t control any of that. What I can control is what I do on the field.”  The training camp tally has them about dead even, with Pineiro slightly more accurate.

--There is a 26-year old Canadian Football League kicker from England who is on quite the roll.  Dating back to last season, Lewis Ward of the Ottawa Redblacks has made an incredible 72-of-73 field goals,  including 69 in a row. During that time, Ward has made kicks in all weather and from all distances. It’s insane.

--Minnesota dealt a fifth round pick Sunday for Baltimore’s Kaare Vedvik. He was a player of interest across the league with reportedly four teams, entertaining the idea of making an offer to the Ravens. 

 

Lastly, a note on the passing of Darryl Drake, who died suddenly at 62. From 2004 through 2012, he was Chicago’s receivers coach and served that role for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2018. In Chicago, he was on the original Lovie Smith staff and immediately connected with players. He cared about them deeply. He was a straight shooter, story-teller and passionate about his role in helping develop players. We spent a lot of time swapping stories and talking football during his time with the Bears. Condolences to his family. 

 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.