Chicago Bears’ assistant coaches sound off
BOURBONNAIS -- Looks who’s talking.
Bears assistant coaches spoke earlier in the week, and they had plenty to say about the players they’ve been working with for the past three weeks during training-camp practices at Olivet Nazarene University.
QB coach Dave Ragone was asked earlier in the week how Mitch Trubisky has grown into his role as a leader.
“He’s a completely different person. Obviously in Year Two as an NFL player, especially being the starting quarterback, unequivocally, of the Chicago Bears, he takes that very serious. His mental approach in terms of the understanding of what a leader is, and that he needs to be himself as a leader, has been leaps and bounds different.”
WR coach Mike Furrey said that his opinion of Allen Robinson’s personality has changed since he’s been around him every day in training camp.
“He’s an alpha, he is. When I first came here, I thought he was a little bit of an introvert, too. He’s such, he’s a businessman, who’s so locked in because he wants to be that good, so you can kind of see why you would call that being an introvert. But he’s opened up a lot more since we’ve gotten out here. He’s starting to get around (No.) 17 (rookie WR Anthony Miller) a little bit, he’s with (No.) 11 (Kevin White), talking about ‘OK, let’s slow down.’
“I can (only) do so much in trying to get those guys to do that, but when you have guys in your room that start doing that for 17 and (No.) 83 (rookie WR Javon Wims), that’s a big thing. So, he has opened up in that. But the main priority for him is to be the best at his job.
OL coach Harry Hiestand’s tackles are set in stone, Charles Leno on the left and Bobby Massie on the right. But depth is a problem. Bradley Sowell is the only other experienced tackle on the roster, but Hiestand says he’s impressed with what he’s seen from 6-foot-6, 320-pound converted DT Rashaad Coward, who spent time on the Bears’ practice squad last and appeared in one game on the other side of the ball.
“He really has come a long way. (Defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio pointed out when I first got here (Jan. 10) that we’ve got a young guy who really has some good traits about him as a football player. He’s tough. He works his tail off. He’s learning on the job really well right now. Very positive growth. He just needs reps. We feel like we have two backups right now that need to improve and get better. But we feel good about that.”
OLB Isaiah Irving played in seven games last year for the Bears after going undrafted out of San Jose State. The 6-foot-3, 254-pounder showed up in the first preseason game with a sack and a QB pressure, but an ankle injury kept him out of Game Two. OLB coach Brandon Staley believes Irving can provide some pass-rush help.
“So much of it for him is establishing a dominant mindset; dominate downhill. (He needs to think) ‘I’m not just going to be where I’m supposed to be; I’m going to make the play.’ That’s the difference between being a reliable player for us, and us counting on him being a producer. But he can do it, and he’s shown that he can do it out here on this practice field. He showed it last year in the time that he was with us. And this preseason, he’s made another jump. But there’s still a long way to go.”
Veteran CB Prince Amukamara’s goal of getting 10 interceptions has gotten a lot of ink and a lot of attention, especially from DBs coach Ed Donatell. Amukamara has just seven career picks in seven seasons, but his coach has his back, and he immediately started working with Amukamara.
“You’ve got to put in the hard work. He hadn’t caught the ball much throughout his career. He’s played some good corner, and he’s been a valuable corner, so he wants to add a dimension and a skillset to his game. My mind went right to how we’re going to do this. As many ways as we can think — JUGS (machine), players, (and even) coach (Matt) Nagy throwing balls, anything we can do. Showing him film clips. Anything we can put our resources behind.”
Fifth-round draft pick DL Bilal Nichols faces an uphill fight for a role on a veteran team, but DL coach Jay Rodgers says the rookie is working to create a niche for himself.
“The more you can do, the more you’ll get to do. We try to take every guy on the team and move them in different spots so they have more versatility, because if you have multiple spots you can play, you’re going to have more opportunities to play. We all want to be in this league for 10 years plus. Some guys get that opportunity, some guys don’t. But when you get pigeonholed into one thing, and maybe that team doesn’t have a spot for you, then you’re out of the league. So we’re trying to develop these guys to be versatile and he’s done a good job picking up the nose spot, being able to pick up an end spot - either side, doesn’t matter to him.”