The Bears have begun their preparations for the 2018 season at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois
Crunch time is here. No more two-hand touch, no more half-speed drills, and full equipment is mandatory. Training camp has arrived for the Chicago Bears as they make their annual summer trip to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, with the regular season drawing closer. Now is the time for new head coach Matt Nagy to let his team loose and truly show what improvements (if any) have been made since last season. This is the first step to find out what the 2018 Chicago Bears will be made of. Here are five storylines making headlines as the Bears report for camp.
1. The Bears (and the Baltimore Ravens) are starting camp a week earlier than the rest of the league
The Bears will be playing the Ravens in this year’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 2 so both teams are getting a head start on practices. In the case of the Bears; it’s about getting the timing down, getting the reps in, and making sure everybody is in shape for the start of the season. Whether the early start helps or hurts this team remains to be seen, but getting the work in is necessary considering that they’ll play five preseason games this year.
2. Time to take the training wheels off of the rookies
It’s time for the newbies to step up and show what they can do at the NFL level. They are no longer the top dogs on campus; they are the new guys trying to earn their NFL stripes. The hits are harder, the playbooks and coverages are more complex, and the competition is tougher. It’s time for the new guys to step up and show that they belong at this level. Although in the case of first-rounder (No. eight overall) Roquan Smith, he has to first get to training camp. Smith was absent when the other rookies reported on Monday as he remains unsigned. The Bears were optimistic that his contract situation would be resolved soon and he would join his teammates in camp.
3. Injured players are getting back on the field
Offensive guard Kyle Long (neck, shoulder, ankle) and wide receiver Allen Robinson (knee) are the most notable of Bears players who are recovering from injures/surgeries. Everyone on the 90-man roster is expected to be 100 percent once full contact drills begin so we’ll just have to wait and see how that turns out.
4. Matt Nagy is running the show
After spending the previous five seasons as Andy Reid’s right hand man in Kansas City, it’s now Nagy’s turn to run the show in Lake Forest. His first task will be to bring the team together in Bourbonnais, get them running at full speed and preparing them to be in game shape.
5. It’s Mitchell Trubisky’s time to shine
At this time last year, the former North Carolina standout was getting ready to hold a clipboard. Now he’s had a full offseason to prepare to be the starting quarterback. He took most of the reps in minicamps and OTAs, he’s been doing plenty of film study, and he’s put the work in the weight room. Now he needs to translate all of that preparation onto the field of play and that starts with the reps in camp.
-- Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chicagobears.com)