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Write Now Blog

Bears practice at Soldier Field

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 3, 2013 – 11:13 pm

First-year coach Marc Trestman and the 2013 Bears made their Soldier Field debut Saturday night, conducting a two-hour Family Fest practice before an enthusiastic crowd of 29,000 fans.

“It was just exciting to be out here,” Trestman said. “You could see our players just had a blast out here. Their effort was at a high level. There was some great competition. We have to remember that it was still just practice eight and we were trying to improve as a football team, and I’m sure coming out here, being in [front of] this crowd, helped our energy after seven practices.”

Bears fans got their first glimpse of first-round draft pick Kyle Long, who loved the atmosphere.

“It was unbelievable,” Long said. “I felt like I was playing in a game. Running out of the tunnel you look to one little keyhole on the other side of the stadium and the whole section is packed, and you’re thinking in your head, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. This is a practice.’ It was electric.”

While defensive end Corey Wootton participated in individual drills Saturday night after missing two practices with a sore hip, offensive tackles Jermon Bushrod (calf) and Jonathan Scott (knee), middle linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) and defensive end Jamaal Anderson (knee) remained sidelined.

Cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and rookie defensive end Cornelius Washington (elbow) left practice with injuries. Receiver Earl Bennett was being evaluated for a concussion. Defensive end Julius Peppers and receiver Alshon Jeffery both had tight hamstrings and were removed from practice as a precautionary measure. After they exited, defensive end Kyle Moore, cornerback Isaiah Frey and receiver Joe Anderson got rare first-team reps.


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Wootton returns on limited basis

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 3, 2013 – 10:32 pm

Sidelined since “tweaking” his hip in Thursday’s practice, defensive end Corey Wootton participated in Saturday night’s Family Fest workout at Soldier Field on a limited basis.

“I’m feeling better,” said the four-year veteran from Northwestern. “I did individual [drills] today. I just kind of tweaked it. I’m just trying to get back in the swing of things. I’m trying to work through it, be smart at the same time and come back when I’m ready.”

After being slowed by injuries in his first two seasons with the Bears, Wootton had a breakout year in 2012, recording a career-high seven sacks while appearing in all 16 games with seven starts.

The 6-6, 270-pounder hopes to play in the Bears’ preseason opener next Friday night in Carolina.

“I’d definitely like to,” said Wootton, whose status remains day-to-day. “There’s still a lot more I want to prove out there. But the biggest thing is just to get healthy and be on the field.”


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Bears sign veteran TE Pope

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 3, 2013 – 10:01 pm

The Bears on Saturday signed veteran tight end Leonard Pope to a one-year contract.

“He had a good workout for us,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He’s just getting started and it’ll be a big week for him as he grows in our offense and gets to know our locker room.”

Pope joins the Bears after appearing in 103 games with 51 starts for the Cardinals (2006-08), Chiefs (2009-11) and Steelers (2012), compiling 105 receptions for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“It’s a blessing,” Pope said after practicing with the Bears Saturday night at Soldier Field. “I’m just happy to have the opportunity and bring what I need to bring to the table, and I’m just ready to help out whenever I can help out.”

Pope was selected by Arizona in the third round of the 2006 draft. He appeared in all 16 games with six starts as a rookie, catching 16 passes for 161 yards. The 6-8, 264-pounder followed by recording 23 receptions for 238 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 2007.

During Pope’s three seasons in Kansas City, Bears general manager Phil Emery served as the Chiefs’ director of college scouting. Pope established career highs with Kansas City in 2011, catching 24 passes for 247 yards while appearing in all 16 games with 10 starts.

Pope is now one of six tight ends on the Bears roster, joining Kyle Adams, Martellus Bennett, Steve Maneri, Gabe Miller, and Fendi Onobun. Miller is suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Pope said. “I’ve got to work my way [up]. I’ve been in the league eight years now and I know what it takes to be the type of player that I need to be, so I’m just working my way up the ladder right now.”


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Bushrod’s injury continuing to improve

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 3, 2013 – 2:19 pm

Jermon Bushrod remains sidelined with a strained right calf, but the veteran left tackle is making steady progress and hopes to return to the practice field sooner rather than later.

“It’s coming along,” Bushrod said. “I’m out of the [protective] boot, which is a good step, a step forward. I’m taking this thing one day at a time. I’m trying to get back as soon as I can, but I don’t want to mess it up anymore. I want to be out here for my team, so the more days I can strengthen this thing back up and then get it back feeling 100 [percent], then I’ll be ready to go.”

While unable to practice, Bushrod hasn’t strayed far from his fellow offensive linemen. Having played for Bears offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer the past five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Bushrod is a valuable resource for his teammates.

“All these guys know that I come from this system, so I know a lot about it, especially coming from the offensive line standpoint,” Bushrod said. “Whenever they have a question, I’m there. Whenever I can help out, I’m there. I want to do whatever we can do so we can get these W’s.”

Bushrod would like to play in next Friday’s preseason opener against the Panthers in Carolina, but the seven-year veteran knows that there are far more important games ahead on the schedule.

“It’d be nice to get out there and put some of this hard work that we’ve been doing out there against another opponent,” Bushrod said. “But I do not want to get to the point where I’m out even longer. It’s going pretty good. There are no complaints. I’ve never had an injury like this before, so I don’t want to push it to the point where I’m out a few more weeks. I want to take it day-by-day.”


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