Joniak's Journal: Nagy Pleased With Bears' Work In Bourbonnais

"We found out who the tough guys are," Matt Nagy says.

Jeff Joniak
August 12, 2018 - 11:03 pm

BOURBONNAIS (670 The Score) -- The Bears held their final practice in Bourbonnais on Sunday. Here are the notes and observations of the day.

First impression

The preseason is far from over, but the isolated, team-building portion of it has come and gone with the Bears leaving Bourbonnais. There remains much work to be done and accomplished over the next four weeks before the regular-season opener. 

So what was accomplished? We know that Nagy wanted to "callous" his team and that it would take time.

"We still have three more weeks left," Nagy said in reference to the preseason. "The guys that are battle tested right now, they are a little bit beat down, as are other teams. So we just complimented them on fighting through it and the guys that are injured to keep getting that therapy and get back out so we can have more bodies."

There have been no serious injuries for the Bears to date. Nagy reiterated to his players that they need to understand the difference between being hurt and being injured. Are they calloused yet, like Nagy set out to accomplish? 

"We found out who the tough guys are and who the guys that aren’t tough," he said.

The Bears still aren't as calloused as Nagy wants them to be for Week 1.It’s a process, as is the offensive development and growth. That's been better the last few days, Nagy said.

There are still some positional battles. Who starts at left guard is unclear. Eric Kush continues working with the first-string, but Nagy said that veteran Earl Watford and rookie James Daniels are battling for that spot as well.

All in all, 27 days and 18 full practices are in the rearview mirror, Nagy said. Now, it's on to joint practices with the Broncos in Denver in advance of the third preseason game Saturday night.

Second thought

Bears outside linebacker Aaron Lynch aggravated a hamstring on the first day of training camp and has rehabbed ever since. The hamstring had first flared up in June.

Despite his absence, Nagy explained that time hasn't run out on Lynch, whom the Bears signed in free agency.

"No, we’re not concerned," Nagy said. "He’s OK with where he’s at. It has drawn out a little bit. He’s back on track. He’ll be ready to go."

It's just that no one knows when.

Meanwhile, receiver Allen Robinson has diligently and aggressively followed the plan to get himself through training camp and ready for the start of the season as he's in the final stages of his ACL rehab. He has proved to the organization and his teammates that he's a serious worker and someone to count on. Robinson is playing with no concerns following surgery last September.

"For the most part, it’s just been polishing certain cuts," Robinson said. "This game is a big muscle memory game. You got to get out here, you got to do stuff, you got to do against different looks. Until you actually get up against defenders and see different looks and have to react differently, that’s where it really comes in. So for me, it’s really just been creating that muscle memory back."

Robinson believes he can play at Denver on Saturday night.

Third degree

Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith has missed all of training camp in a contract holdout. There's no doubt he's behind, and it could limit his readiness for the start of the regular season.

"Yeah, I would say so," Nagy said. "I think it does. You’re playing at that position, and there’s a lot of calls that go on, very similar to a quarterback. There’s a lot going on. I have full confidence in Vic (Fangio) and his staff that when he does get here, he will get him up to speed. Whenever that is, we’ll see. Again, that’s why we all get paid as coaches -- is to try help our players as much as possible. That’s kind of where we’re at."

Smith’s representation has held him out regarding language in his contract that would protect his guaranteed money for any incidents on the field but outside the confines of a play, per reports. I never imagined it would last this long. It’s unfortunate.


My WBBM broadcast partner Tom Thayer has picked a player after every practice who earned a thumbs up for a variety of reasons, enthusiasm, technique or playmaking during the workout. We call it the "practice ball," and you’ve heard them awarded during our WBBM Radio training camp reports.

For the three-week camp in Bourbonnais, here are the respective choices for players who were the top performers.

Offense: receiver Anthony Miller  
Defense: linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd
Special teams: returner Tarik Cohen

I would add that nearly the entire secondary was outstanding during camp, that Miller must have led the team in camp touchdowns and that the ascending presence on special teams is veteran DeAndre Houston-Carson.

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