Injury-free for once, all systems are go for the Bears to start camp
By Robert Zeglinski
BOURBONNAIS – In 2015, the beginning of the ongoing Kevin White injury saga loomed over John Fox’s first training camp.
In 2016, as the Bears looked to build on a promising start to the Fox era, Pernell McPhee was instead going through a variety of issues due to his knee.
In 2017, coming off a disappointing 3-13 season, McPhee was once again unavailable through most of camp. Kyle Long joined him for the most part in a weird on-again, off-again saga surrounding an ailing ankle.
If there’s anything the Bears should be used to, it’s always having a major player or two sidelined through most if not all of camp. Sometimes and often from the very beginning. No one has lost more adjusted games to injury than Chicago with 366 in the last three seasons.
By no coincidence that medical failure has always started in camp. In 2018, no one is on the physically unable to perform list for once. In 2018, fresh off a refocused mantra to keep every contributor on the field, the Bears are finally and mercifully 100 percent healthy.
So for the first time, with everyone raring to go, the Bears would be remiss not to welcome their injury fortune with open arms. More than anyone they understand this kind of luck is hard to come by. For a team that could’ve been without Long for much of camp yet again, in addition to stalwart pass rusher Leonard Floyd and No. 1 Allen Robinson: that’s the best possible forecast.
“They’ll be going full steam ahead,” said Matt Nagy of this Bears trio that’s diligently worked to get back to the field. “The reason we did that in OTAs (ease them in) is that they’re ready to go now. Now it’s go time.”
Anyone familiar with the Bears knows that they and healthy don’t fit in the same sentence. The Bears and actually managing injured players properly is as much of a polar opposite concept as there can be. Actually having Long, Floyd, and Robinson ready to go and participate in a full capacity is such a stark departure from the norm. A welcome and needed departure.
Nagy himself, entering his first season with the Bears at the helm, knows that whatever offense he installs won’t matter in comparison to having a full stable of talent. No matter how comfortable and talented his team is, the whole plan shoots out the window if the Bears can’t get out of Bourbonnais in relatively one piece.
It’s not schemes and play design that wins games in the NFL. It’s who is healthier. These Bears go only as far as who is on the field to take them.
“Every coach in the NFL will tell you you want to come out healthy,” said Nagy of his main vision of camp. “There’s some luck involved in that, but health is the biggest concern for us.”
Forget the ascendance of Trubisky. Forget the continued development of a defense on the rise. Shelve every other topic during this Bears warmup period. How healthy the Bears are at the start of camp now is what Nagy wants to maintain first and foremost. They can’t remotely succeed if they don’t come out relatively unscathed over the next month.
There’s rarely important news that comes out of the immediate opening of Bears camp. Without any time on the field to glean information from, conversation becomes grating. But for the first time, no news on the injury front for the Bears is the best news, and a relevant takeaway. For a recently battered and bruised team like the Bears, having everyone healthy is the closest thing to a victory in the standings. After this, fresh developments regarding injuries won’t be treated as such.
Football is a physical game and things happen, but the Bears are going to do everything they can to ride this healthy wave out for as long as possible. They’re already off to a better foot than they have been in a long time. Nagy affirmed that the Bears are going to have an expected physical camp, though, so this injury-free reality will be difficult to keep up. Enjoy it while it lasts.
“It’s gonna be a physical camp. We’re looking to have a calloused team.”
Robert is your guy for all things Bears. He’ll be with the team all through training camp. Find him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.