On training camp’s final day, the Bears don’t let up
BOURBONNAIS – His 14th NFL camp as a head coach has come to an end but it’s the first time he’s done so in central Illinois.
In the heat of the late morning at Olivet Nazarene on Sunday John Fox ran his team through one more workout before packing up the gear and heading back to Lake Forest to settle in at the more permanent home of the team.
But in this final go around Fox wanted his team to understand one thing.
“We’re still in camp,” said Fox. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do to find out who the tough guys are and the only way to find out are practices like that.”
Ones like Sunday that are atypical of workouts held by NFL teams as they depart their destination training camp. Instead of a light day Fox put on the full pads and had the team do some hitting as part of their swan song in Bourbonnais for 2015.
It even led to a skirmish during practice between center Will Montgomery and defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff.
“Just camp,” said Fox of the altercation between the players during practice. “We made it very, very competitive. This was not one of those non-padded, easy exit final days of camp. We kinda warned them, alerted them.”
Did they enjoy it? We’ll a few players pointed at mental toughness as being the main thing which they got from the new coaching staff during their nearly three weeks in Bourbonnais.
“He’s been around football for a long time and he was used to camp old days when there were ‘Two-A-Days’ and there were no days off or breaks or stuff like that,” said running back Matt Forte of Fox. “When you hear from a guy like that you don’t go out there on hot days and want to feel sorry for yourself because we’ve all been through those days. Some of the young guys haven’t but we’ve all be through those.
“We know how bad and how hard it used to be and how it is now and that we can continue to work everyday and get better.”
Eddie Royal concurred about the final practice and said it was a reflection of the entire camp which had 13 practices from July 30th through. Only the first two days were without pads and the team was back to a hitting practice just under 48 hours after their first preseason game.
“It was tough, it was a hard day. We’ve been through a game and a lot of guys are still sore,” said receiver Eddie Royal. “Just fighting through that. You like to see your team fight through the hard days of camp and the preseason and just getting through that shows how tough your team is.”
So did it work? Fox thinks so.
“I think our mindset is a little tougher,” said Fox when asked what improvements he saw from the team during camp. “Some of the essences of football have been worked on as far as run defense and run offense. Knowledge of our systems has grown the whole time we’ve been out there. Our tempo is something that was new to them.”
So was the routine on the final day of training camp. They didn’t get away easy on getaway day.