LAKE FOREST – When the practices start to pile up as training camp continues, sometimes it can get a little monotonous.
The same players are facing each other day after day in workouts as the weather gets a little warmer and the tensions go up a bit as the season approaches. This is pretty common in NFL training camps across the country and has probably been the case at Halas Hall over the past few weeks.
“Once you get past that first week of training camp, seeing you’re teammates for as long as we have, it’s always good to go up against a new team,” said receiver Damiere Byrd, and that chance comes this Wednesday and Thursday.
Ahead of their preseason game against each other on Wednesday, the Miami Dolphins have descended on Halas Hall for a pair of workouts with the Bears.
Matt Nagy could detect a change in the player’s demeanor even before they stepped onto the field.
“You can already kinda feel it in the building right now with the players. There’s a little bit of a pep right now and juice in them walking out there, and that’s a good thing.”
It serves as an opportunity for the players to measure their progress against a different team for the first time in the 2021 season. It’s especially beneficial for players like quarterback Andy Dalton, who is running Nagy’s offense for the first time.
“It’s fun to get these opportunities to go against different team. It comes at a good time,” said Dalton of the joint practices. “You’ve been going up against the same guys over and over and over again, going against our defense. Now you get a completely different style, going against different looks.
“It comes at a good time.”
This also provides a different look for Nagy and the coaches as they continue to evaluate positions on the roster before the September 12th season opener against the Rams. It may not be as important as those three preseason contests that will start on Saturday, but it can provide some more information to help find the right opening day roster.
“We put a lot of stock into it. It’s almost like an extension of the – a little bit – of the preseason game,” said Nagy of the workouts. “If we can get some starter work in there against each other. You understand the speed of the game picks up a little bit, you see different moves. But in the end, the preseason games are the ones are the ones that really help us evaluate.”
Plus it’s something a little different, which is always appreciated when many things look the same during training camp.
“It kinda takes you out of the routine of training camp,” said Byrd. “It allows you to see where we’re at outside of a game setting and it really kinda pushes yourself to play harder throughout the practice and to kinda learn where you’re at.”