Big crowds in Bourbonnais impress the Bears as they begin training camp
BOURBONNAIS – For the first time in a number of years, there’s palpable energy going through the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University.
Tarik Cohen could feel it during one of the most common running back drills he’ll run over the next few weeks at training camp.
“Sometimes it’s strange; when I go through a ladder drill, and I don’t hit a drill, they start clapping,” said Cohen of this weekend’s crowds. “I really didn’t do that much, but they’re applauding.
“So it is fun to see and it makes us laugh.”
Happy is probably more how they fell after the Bears had an incredible turnout for their first two days of camp in Bourbonnais.
Per the team’s public relations department, the team drew 17,198 fans for their first two days of practice this weekend. It’s a major jump from the past few seasons when the team was struggling under John Fox then entered the first season under Matt Nagy with moderate expectations.
That all changed when the Bears surprised many with a 12-4 record and an NFC North title for the first time since 2010 last fall. It’s completely flipped the tenor of a fan base that had little to root for over the previous five seasons.
Matt Nagy certainly noticed the change as he put his team through the first two open practices at training camp that will continue through August 11th.
“What we just experienced as a team, as players and coaches, coming out to that sea of fans and everybody out there; I don’t know how to put it into words how much that means to us,” said Nagy of Saturday’s crowd during the first open practice of camp. “I literally gives you goosebumps. We were on the golf court going to practice and you just see everyone down the sidewalk in their jerseys on.
“They’re just so excited to get this thing going again, and I just want to say thank you from our players and our coaches.”
On Monday morning, when rains moved through Bourbonnais, the crowds were still there, earning the praise of the team once again.
The Bears still have six more open practices – including a night workout at Soldier Field on Saturday – that are open to the fans before they break camp with a closed workout on August 11th.