Nagy: Rest as­sured

Play­off ex­pe­ri­ence teaches coach value of keep­ing team fresh

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Rich Camp­bell rcamp­[email protected]­bune.com Twit­[email protected]_Camp­bell

De­cem­bers have been dead at Halas Hall the last four years. As the cal­en­dar has flipped to the fi­nal page, the Bears have pre­pared to play out the string and turn their at­ten­tion to the per­son­nel and coach­ing prob­lems that have led to dou­ble-digit losses.

That has not been Matt Nagy’s re­al­ity. On the con­trary, the Chiefs teams for which he was quar­ter­back coach or of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor made the play­offs four times in five sea­sons from 2013 to ’17.

In other words, Nagy has ex­pe­ri­ence nav­i­gat­ing a play­off push. And he’s about to ap­ply that to his new team.

He started by giv­ing his play­ers four days off af­ter Thurs­day’s 23-16 vic­tory over the Lions ex­tended their win­ning streak to five and gave them three NFC North wins in 12 days. Nagy sensed ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits to some recharg­ing time, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the Bears’ open date was the first week­end of Oc­to­ber.

Some play­ers, in­clud­ing in­jured quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky, were at­team­head­quar­ters Fri­day any­way. When the full team re­turns next week, Nagy will have a plan for the fi­nal five games, the first of which is Dec. 2 at the Gi­ants.

“Our prac­tice reps are go­ing to kick back a lit­tle bit; that’s to save them phys­i­cally,” Nagy said. “The men­tal side of it, they’ve got to re­ally be strong at that. They’ve got to un­der­stand that when they’re watch­ing tape, they’ve got to study even more tape. When they get every sin­gle prac­tice rep, they can’t go 75 per­cent. They’ve got to go 100 per­cent in prac­tice.”

Nagy also chal­lenged the coach­ing staff to avoid com­pla­cency and de­tectable ten­den­cies in play call­ing and game strat­egy.

“We’ve got to try to stay one step ahead,” Nagy said.

There’s also the im­por- tant un­der­stand­ing of the sea­son’s phys­i­cal toll on play­ers.

“Tak­ing care of th­ese guys; let them knowwe care how they feel phys­i­cally,” Nagy said. “Talk (to them). And you’ve got to stay mo­ti­vated, and that shouldn’t be hard to do.”

Not from a first-place perch, it shouldn’t.

In­jury re­port: The Bears don’t have to de­cide on Tru­bisky’s avail­abil­ity for the Giants­game­un­til nex­tweek. In the mean­time, he’ll re­ceive daily treat­ment. Nagy and the Bears are op­ti­mistic he’ll be able to prac­tice Wed­nes­day, and his pro­gres­sion will de­pend on hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion­be­tween the train­ing staff, coaches and Tru­bisky, Nagy said.

Run­ning back Benny Cun­ning­ham sprained his right an­kle Thurs­day, and Nagy says he’s day to day. Tight end Adam Sha­heen (con­cus­sion) and line­backer Aaron Lynch (con­cus­sion) are pro­gress­ing in the re­turn-to-play pro­to­col.

JOHN J. KIM/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Bears coach Matt Nagy’s plan for his play­ers over the past five games will in­clude re­duced prac­tice reps “to save them phys­i­cally.”

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