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Bears kick off historic NFL campaign with Super hopes

As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, the Chicago Bears fittingly take the field against their arch-rival Green Bay Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field with lofty ambitions.

While the sting has subsided from last January’s heartbreaking home playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the memories remain. The Bears have spent the offseason searching for a kicker and retooling a running game that figures to be prominent beginning with the season opener.

Chicago returns almost all of last year’s key players that brought an NFC North Division championship to the Windy City, including a stellar defense headlined by All-Pro Khalil Mack and Pro Bowlers Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s transition to taking over for Vic Fangio appears seamless.

On offense, Mitch Trubisky will be asked to take the next step in his quarterback progression, namely displaying the ability to go from a caretaker role to a dangerous playmaker. Entering his third year, Trubisky has shown glimpses of becoming a dual threat. He’ll be joined in the backfield by newcomers Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery, though Montgomery should become the feature back early in the year given his skill set.

Against the backdrop of pomp and circumstance with the NFL’s centennial season, the Bears face a nemesis in Aaron Rodgers and the Packers that has been tough to beat. Green Bay comes into the opener with a fresh look, as former Titans offensive coordinator and Sean McVay disciple Matt LaFleur takes over the head coaching reigns from longtime fixture Mike McCarthy.

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Bears set abbreviated training camp schedule

As the NFL collective bargaining agreement has truncated what was normally a grueling month of preseason workouts for teams, training camp has taken on more of an educational and learning environment. The Bears will spend approximately two weeks in Bourbonnais, sandwiched around a glorified walk through practice at Soldier Field and the club’s opening home preseason contest against Carolina.

Mirroring the trend of fellow NFL teams, the Chicago Bears announced a shortened training camp schedule at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.

The Bears open training camp on Saturday, July 27 and conclude it with a final practice on Saturday, August 10. As was the case last year, all Bourbonnais practices are scheduled for early morning 8:15am starts.

Tickets are free and overflow crowds are expected with Chicago coming off a NFC North division title in 2018. This summer marks the 18th consecutive year the Bears have trained at Olivet Nazarene, approximately 60 miles south of Chicago.

Bears seek hidden gems in draft’s final rounds

Sixth-round draft choice, Kansas State CB Duke Shelley, will try to crack the Bears defensive back rotation.

With just five overall draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and few glaring needs, the Chicago Bears looked to fill niche roles on the roster with their final three picks.

Sixth-round CB Duke Shelley of Kansas State didn’t show up in many mock drafts, partly due to a toe injury that curtailed his final season in Manhattan. However, now that Shelley has fully recovered, he turned in an impressive pro day workout that backed up some impressive tape. Though undersized at 5’9″, he’s an instinctive and aggressive defender with sticky coverage skills and a knack for the endzone. Shelley competes on every play ran his direction and is crafty enough to undercut routes. In Chicago, he’ll try and stick on the roster as a rotational defensive back and possibly groomed to play slot corner or nickel back, a role previously held by the departed Bryce Callahan.

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Bears tab Ridley to supplement receiving corps

Ridley is known as a smooth route runner and acrobatic hands catcher.

The Chicago Bears added more offensive firepower to their arsenal with the drafting of Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley in the fourth round of the NFL Draft Saturday. Ridley is the younger brother of Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons, a first-round pick last year who played at Alabama.

The Bears hope the Ridley genes continue to prosper in professional football. Although not the prospect his younger brother was, Riley possesses many of the same qualities scouts look for in a quality wideout…good route-runner, solid hands, and the ability to win contested balls thrown in his direction. His 40-yard dash speed at the NFL scouting combine of 4.58 is considered ordinary, but Ridley plays faster than he times and is crafty enough to create separation.

An early entrant to the draft, Ridley sometimes got lost in the wealth of Georgia’s offensive playmakers. Over his three-year career in Athens, he caught 69 passes for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns in 28 games. In 2018, Ridley posted career bests with 14 games played, 43 catches, 559 yards and nine TDs. His big-game experience in the Southeastern Conference should be a definite plus as the Bears try to take the next step in their development as a perennial playoff contender.

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