■ Bears turn up the pres­sure be­fore more than 8,000 fans at first open prac­tice.

Camp’s 1st open prac­tice has Bears’ fans buzzing

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - By Dan Wiederer

BOURBONNAI­S — The first big roar of Bears train­ing camp came a lit­tle af­ter 8:15 a.m. Sat­ur­day when the sound sys­tem on the Olivet Nazarene Univer­sity prac­tice fields be­gan blar­ing “Re­turn of the Mack” as the team be­gan its first open prac­tice. Right there on the field, All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack was ready­ing for work.

The first groan of camp? That came af­ter a very mi­nor er­ror when rookie run­ning back David Mont­gomery bob­bled then dropped a pass over the mid­dle dur­ing in­di­vid­ual drills.

One of the first heated de­bates among fans? That came be­hind the north end zone af­ter a Mitch Tru­bisky deep ball to Taylor Gabriel fell in­com­plete. That par­tic­u­lar pass might have been un­der­thrown a bit. It could have been con­sid­ered a drop. It might have even been de­fensed well by rookie Duke Shel­ley.

What­ever the case, the ver­dict among that par­tic­u­lar clus­ter of fans was dead­locked, and the de­lib­er­a­tions were loud and full of pas­sion.

The Bears buzz is def­i­nitely back and at full throt­tle, Chicago.

With less than six weeks left un­til the NFL’s sea­son opener — Bears ver­sus Pack­ers on Sept. 5 at Sol­dier Field — a crowd of­fi­cially an­nounced at 8,385 turned out to get a glimpse of a team that has le­git­i­mate Su­per Bowl hopes in 2019.

It has been a long time since this kind of en­ergy has been per­co­lat­ing from the crowds in Bourbonnai­s.

As Matt Nagy rode to­ward prac­tice on a golf cart, he felt an in­stant adren­a­line rush as he sur­veyed the morn­ing scene.

“Com­ing out to that sea of fans and every­body out there, I don’t even know how to put it into words how much that means to us on just who our fans are, what our city is all about,” Nagy said. “It lit­er­ally gives you goose bumps. … You see every­body down the side­walk with all their jer­seys on. They’re just so ex­cited to get this thing go­ing again.”

The gates to prac­tice didn’t open un­til 7:30 a.m.. But ac­cord­ing to one Bears rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the line to get in had started form­ing a lit­tle af­ter 3 a.m. The Bears were 45 min­utes into their prac­tice Sat­ur­day and a line of cars was still snaking from sev­eral direc­tions around the perime­ter of the fields to­ward the nearby park­ing lots.

Fans went crazy for an An­thony Miller touch­down catch from Chase Daniel. They watched with hope when kicker El­liott Fry made nine con­sec­u­tive field-goal at­tempts, in­clud­ing a bomb from 60 yards. They weren’t cer­tain

how to root when Nagy called for a pair of one-on-one, of­fen­sev­er­sus-de­fense com­pe­ti­tions with el­e­vated stakes.

Allen Robin­son beat Kyle Fuller in the first bat­tle, haul­ing in a deep ball from Tru­bisky. Im­me­di­ately the de­fen­sive play­ers were left with a set of up-downs. A lit­tle while later, Prince Amuka­mara suc­cess­fully de­fended Gabriel, forced an in­com­ple­tion and then watched as the of­fen­sive guys did pushups.

“It’s one of those pres­sure-filled sit­u­a­tions,” Amuka­mara said. “And it’s so that when the game is on the line and we’re on the 3-yard line and the op­pos­ing of­fense is go­ing in and I’m on Julio (Jones) and I know, ‘OK, it’s zero cov­er­age. They’re com­ing at me here.’ Now I’ve al­ready kind of been in that sit­u­a­tion. I’ve felt my heart beat. I’ve felt my blood pump and I just have to make a play for my team.”

Added Nagy: “We’re talk­ing about crav­ing pres­sure with this

team. Let’s crave it so that when it hap­pens in the game it’s nat­u­ral. We want to prac­tice it as much as we can.”

That will con­tinue Sun­day when the Bears put full pads on for the first time. It will con­tinue for the re­main­ing eight prac­tices that fol­low be­fore camp breaks Aug. 11. Nagy wants his play­ers crav­ing pres­sure and he wants them to feel what it’s like to both suc­ceed and fail in those mo­ments.

The Bears also are ea­ger to con­tinue feel­ing the juice from fans, who have the high­est of hopes for the sea­son.

In­jury up­date: Re­ceiver Ri­ley Ri­d­ley didn’t prac­tice Sat­ur­day, out with a right hamstring in­jury that Nagy in­sisted wasn’t se­vere but could keep the rookie out for longer than a week or so. Fel­low re­ceiver Em­manuel Hall and de­fen­sive back Jonathon Mincy also missed prac­tice with groin is­sues.

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