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The Bears Arrive In Bourbonnais

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 25, 2013 5:40PM

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Chicago Bears players arrived in Bourbonnais Wednesday with the first official practice of training camp set for Friday. Fans are likely to pay closer attention to the goings on at Olivet Nazarene University this year, because both baseball teams are hopelessly out of the playoff hunt and because it'll be the first camp for new head coach Marc Trestman and his new coaching staff. They plan to change things up from how former coach Lovie Smith ran camp, with more fast paced drills and earlier start times.

Trestman takes over a team that won 10 games in 2012 but missed the playoffs. That cost Lovie Smith his job and now Bears fans expect to see quick results. Trestman is known to be a "quarterback whisperer" and his relationship with Jay Cutler will be critical to the team's success. And Cutler's tenure in Chicago.

Cutler is among 11 Bears starters who are in contract years who were informed by GM Phil Emery that there will be no contract extensions during the season. All players were put on notice to perform if they want to get paid. In addition to Cutler, big names like Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Henry Melton, Robbie Gould, and Roberto Garza are also in the final year of their deals. Perhaps Bears management hopes this will inspire better play from their starters. But some players believe it may have the opposite effect. Gould ssaid on ESPN Radio Wednesday, "At the end of the day if you have all these guys [unsigned], they have to take care of No. 1."

So will players look to pad their resume at the expense of the team? Do the Bears risk a major setback if they get close to, but don't reach, the Super Bowl? Said Gould:

If they were smart they would try to get their core group of players and re-sign them before the end of the year and try to make it work, but a lot of us are sitting in a great position. You might see a lot of guys exit the Bears, [so] this year has to be pretty special, because if it doesn’t go as well as planned I can see them completely rebuilding. Or they might find a couple guys they think is their core group and get rid of some of the other higher-paid guys.

On the other hand, should the Bears not improve upon last year, they'll have more flexibility to re-build.

While talks of contracts created some tension in Bears camp already, there was some levity, too. Nat Geo Wild announced Bears return specialist Devin Hester will race a cheetah as part of a Big Cats Week special "Man vs. Cheetah." Hester, along with Tennesee Titans running back Chad Johnson, will see if they can outrun the fastest big cat. We'll have to wait until November for the special to air and learn how Hester did.

Perhaps sooner than that, we might learn whether Hester is faster than a Segway. Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall showed up at camp yesterday riding one of the electric scooters around campus. We guess it's time to bequeath him a new nickname—Gob. No word on whether it'll help him work his magic on the field, however.

For fans who want to watch the Bears as they gear up for the season, many practices are open to the public and a number of themed events are planned, such as Ladies Day and Armed Forces Day. The full schedule is available on should you be thinking about making the trek down to Bourbonnais.