The Chicago Bears are back at Halas Hall. Team activities started last week and on Tuesday, head coach Matt Nagy ran his first practice. Oh by the way, he is a visor guy.
Here is what we know from Day 1 of voluntary workouts in Lake Forest.
The Bears front office has told Jordan Howard that he will not be traded. The running back called that “comforting.”
Howard, a 1,122 yard rusher a season ago, did come up in trade talks earlier in the offseason. There was also the whole fiasco when pictures from Howard’s Instagram of him in a Bears uniform were taken down causing Twitter to go into panic mode.
The pictures are back for those wondering. When asked about the Instagram account, Howard said, “there is nothing to it.”
The former Hoosier is not exactly the type of running back who seems to fit in Nagy’s system. The trade rumors were an initial shock but once you sat down and thought about it, there was some sense to the matter. Howard has not proved he can be a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, a core strength of running backs in the Chiefs system last season. Howard caught 23 passes for 125 yards last season with five drops, notably the potential game winning score vs. Atlanta in the season opener.
Nagy spoke to the media following Tuesday’s practice and said they will use multiple running back but Howard will be the featured back.
It will definitely be interesting to see how Nagy uses Howard. He dominates the zone game and reads his blocks very well. While he does not have breakout speed, he runs with a purpose and fights for the extra yard. Again, his skillset does not scream athleticism like Tarik Cohen, but there are many ways he can still flourish in the new offense.
Nagy announced that Rashaad Coward is moving to offensive guard. The undrafted defensive tackle from Old Dominian appeared in one game last season after being called up from the practice squad.
Coward, 6′ 5″, 320lb, has the size to play guard. So why did they move him over to offense? Nagy said, “Some of our coaches on both sides saw him having ability to play offense.” What better time than right now to get him with Coach Harry.”
After declining Josh Sitton’s team option earlier in the offseason, the need to add a guard became a reality. The Bears have Eric Kush under contract for this season, a guy they are very high on after giving him a two-year deal last year. Kush tore his hamstring in August of last season. Kush appeared in eight games for the Bears in 2016 with four of them earning the start.
Looking ahead to the draft, Quenton Nelson is the best guard in the draft class. If he is on the board when the Bears draft at eight, he may be tough to pass up. Nelson would reunite with his offensive line coach at Notre Dame, Harry Hiestand, and would be a plug and play starter from Day 1.
Mitchell Trubisky apparently had a really good first day. Nagy told the media following practice that he pulled the young QB to the side and told him how impressed he was with his day one performance. “That was pretty good what just happened, not just Mitch, but the rest of the offense.” Trubisky is now the face of the franchise and he is going to have to play and practice like it.
Take these practice with a grain of salt. Players are just in helmets and do a lot of technique and work on bags and hand shields. I coach football at the high school level and these type of practices are all about the details and playing with perfect technique. It’s great to hear that Trubisky had a good day of practice, but we know the only thing that counts is the performance on Sunday’s.
Other news out of Halas Hall today was Bryce Callahan signed his restricted free agent tender. He will make $1.9 million this season.
Callahan is entering his fourth season in the league, all with the Bears. He has battled many injuries and those have limited his playing time. But when healthy, Callahan is a fast, athletic corner who has carved a role as the Bears nickel cornerback the past few seasons. The former Rice standout had 6 passes defended, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble in 12 games last season.
Linbacker Danny Trevathan was absent from practice today for personal reasons. Nagy said, “nothing we are concerned about.”