Bears Notebook: Nagy takes rainy day in stride, Toliver has huge day
By Robert Zeglinski
BOURBONNAIS – “Bear Weather” is a cliche used to say the Bears thrive in inclement conditions, whereas their opponents by association do not. That when it’s raining, sleeting, or hailing the Bears always have a leg up. This, of course, has no traction or proof behind it considering the Bears haven’t been a good team rain or shine in recent years. But it’s a mantra this organization fervently holds onto. What “Bear Weather” should really be viewed as is a mentality. That no matter the conditions, stakes, and obstacles, the Bears have to be prepared.
On Friday, with it raining cats and dogs and drenching the Bears’ first practice of camp this year, Nagy made sure his team didn’t flinch. In the past, any hint of ominous clouds would’ve meant the Bears never entertained practicing outside in Bourbonnais. This time, why shy away from a little water? You’re not going to melt from getting wet, and you’re certainly not going to get better by shying away from it.
“It’s a little adversity. It’s good for the guys,” said Nagy in response to putting his team literally and figuratively through the storm. “There was no chance we were going inside.”
Part of the Bears succeeding with Nagy is them taking bumps in the road in stride and reacting appropriately. A young team with a young quarterback like Mitchell Trubisky is going to face much worse than on again and off again rain they can’t control. It’s high time they get used to powering through what’s out of their hands because that mindset is the only way they become a winner.
It’s early, but in the very beginning of his tenure the green Nagy is implementing his vision exactly as planned. He’s getting his Bears focused and aligned: no matter the circumstances. “Bear Weather” is making it’s return.
UDFA Toliver quickly making waves
When the Bears aren’t in full pads and the weather is all over the place, it’s difficult for fringe roster players to flash. There’s simply too much of a grey area for guys to flourish, especially this early in camp.
Don’t tell that to 2018 undrafted free agent, Kevin Toliver, who already made a name for himself with several picks and batted passes in the second half of practice on Friday. Notably, many of them were on Trubisky too. It didn’t matter. Toliver came to play regardless of who was taking snaps.
The questions with Toliver coming out of college at LSU had nothing to do with his ability, and everything to do with character. Toliver can play at this level, and when he’s on, he can flat out ball. If the rookie cornerback can keep his head screwed on straight, and continue this momentum as the Bears ratchet up the intensity over the course of camp, then he’s well on his way towards becoming a steal post-draft signing for Chicago.
Availability is the best ability
While no Bears started this camp on the PUP list, a few big names did not participate in Chicago’s first practice due to health issues. Those names being starting linebacker Danny Trevathan (hamstring), and standout special teamers Sherrick McManis (hamstring) and Josh Bellamy (illness).
For now, until it becomes a pattern, there’s nothing to be worried about with this trio’s absence. There are going to be small nicks and knacks throughout this time of the year. Even for Trevathan, who is finally trying to enjoy a healthy season in the third year of a four-year deal signed in 2016. It doesn’t matter until anyone is missing extensive time. You can’t push past a limit.
How the Bears manage these players and their entire roster with necessary precautions determines whether these issues get out of control. An aspect previous Chicago regimes struggled with.
To his credit, Nagy was forthright and didn’t bat an eye at any absence this early. He didn’t have to.
Where’s Waldo (Roquan)?
The only player’s absence to be remotely concerned about so far (if at all) is this year’s first rounder Roquan Smith, who has yet to sign a contract with the Bears as his official holdout extends past two days. Thought to be one of the best immediate impact talents in the 2018 draft, Smith can’t make that impact until he has a deal and until he’s consistently gelling with his teammates.
Nagy, ever the steady hand, was not perturbed that Smith had actually missed the Bears’ first day on the field. The rookie coach knows the NFL is a business. He can’t get caught up in whatever impasse there is between Smith and the Bears in contract negotiations. That’s Nagy’s player’s livelihood on the line and a matter between he and management solely.
Asked whether he was bothered by Smith’s absence, Nagy immediately and confidently replied “No.” He doesn’t have to add any more pressure to the situation than there already is. His job is to coach the players that are present.
“It’s a part of the process.”
Whenever Smith does report to camp fresh off his lucrative top 10 pick deal, the Bears and Nagy are going to welcome him with open arms. Smith’s the hopeful face of their defense, and it’s crucial he come prepared and secure. Nagy’s ideal stance is to not alienate any of his young leadership before their relationship has gotten off the ground.
“Roquan’s a great kid and a great football player, and he’ll be here when he’s ready.” R.
Robert is your guy for all things Bears. He’ll be with the team all through training camp. Find him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.