Joniak's Journal: Bears Put In Work Despite Multiple Injuries

The Bears practiced at Vernon Hills High School on Wednesday night.

Jeff Joniak
August 23, 2018 - 6:58 am
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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Bears practiced at Vernon Hills High School on Wednesday night ahead of a preseason contest against the Chiefs at Soldier Field on Saturday.

First impression

Receiver Allen Robinson is coming on strong. In the evening practice at Vernon Hills High, the connection between quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Robinson flashed again. They connected on several passes on a variety of routes. Robinson’s ability to go up and get the ball is becoming more and more common as he wins routes against defensive backs. His healthy return from a torn ACL that he suffered on his third snap of the regular-season opener in 2017 is as big of a factor in the development of the offense as any storyline on the 2018 Bears. 

Meanwhile, receiver Taylor Gabriel continues to make progress in his return from a foot injury.

"So you can see we are coming back in increments with him," coach Matt Nagy said. "His biggest thing is just the pain of what he’s going through and it’s been getting better and better each day. As long as we keep that controlled ... he’s such a quick player and he’s smart, he’s a veteran, there’s a calmness when he gets in the huddle. It’s nice to get him back out there."

Gabriel is doing more and more running and getting involved in some drills.

Second thought

More opinions are being sought by the Bears on the sprained foot suffered by tight end Adam Shaheen in Denver on Saturday.

"We’re trying to just get him looked at by different people with more opinions," Nagy said. "We don’t have an update."

Veteran safety DeAndre-Houston-Carson suffered a broken forearm in Denver but kept playing in the game, showing his toughness.

Right guard Kyle Long had a scheduled day off Wednesday. Defensive end Akiem Hicks missed practice again with knee soreness. Cornerback Bryce Callahan didn't practice, but it’s nothing serious according to Nagy. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd watched practice with his broken hand covered in a black cast just days after surgery to repair two bones.

Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith did some running during practice and spent most of the periods tethered to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, no doubt getting on-field classroom teaching as his tight left hamstring heals. It's likely that Smith misses Saturday's game.

"Just precautionary," Nagy said. "We didn’t have a whole lot of either way ... whether better or worse.  t was pretty much similar so we just don’t want to be stupid, we don’t want to be dumb. We want to be smart."

Third degree

For Trubisky, Wednesday it brought back memories of his high school days in Ohio. Similar sentiments were expressed by multiple players as the practice at Vernon Hills brought out an estimated 5,000 fans. 

"Some of the best days of my life back in Mentor (Ohio)," Trubisky said. "I got a lot of love for my hometown community, the coaches and my little brother is still back there, so a part of me will always love high school and I will treasure those days forever."

Nagy saw his team get a lot of good work done as the Bears moved off of their Halas Hall campus to work in front of the fans. The fear was it might disrupt the timing and tempo of practice, but that wasn't the case.

"I told the guys at the end of practice I appreciate them coming out here and giving all their effort," Nagy said. "I thought it was a fast practice. It was efficient. They were good with their details. They took it serious, and that’s a credit to the players."

There's actual game-planning going on for the contest against the Chiefs. Nagy is treating the entire week like a game week.

"It’s been a lot different," Trubisky said. "I get to know a lot more about my opponent, a lot more preparing going into it, so it’s been fun just learning how Coach Nagy’s game plans throughout the week. Just getting used to our schedule and how we’re going to be organized throughout the week.

Trubisky beleives the Bears have a better idea of what plays they like in certain situations. He has a better handle on what the expectation is of this offense.

Fourth-and-short

Ten years ago, Nagy was coaching at a Pennsylvania high school. Practicing in front of the Vernon Hills community under the lights brought back great memories of his playing and coaching days in the prep ranks. Now he’s an NFL coach preparing his Bears for a meeting with his mentor Andy Reid and old teamin the Chiefs.

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