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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Hello there back home in Greenwood, Ind., from the Niermans – 

Jane here (Ken and I will take turns telling you everything). Another year, another Bears camp for us! We’ve missed a few since that first one in ’67 back in Rensselear, and we still miss Platteville, maybe because of the time Ken was on a sideline with a camera (we could stand around the field then) and Walter Payton mistook him for one of the media photographers, came over and shook his hand! Ken was tongue-tied, but remembers how BIG Walter’s hand was! But this is now….

It’s not easy living in Greenwood sometimes just because that’s Colts country and Ken’s been a Bears fan ever since his Dad bought their first TV when he was about 8, and he could only get Bears and Browns games. He says the Bears were better then so he became a Bears fan.

That’s true, Jane. But today we got to watch practice sitting with that nice John “Moon” Mullin from NBC Sports Chicago. Such a great, great guy and a real football genius (am I writing that the way you told me too, Moon?)

Anyway, beautiful day for practice and we got a show! The Bears were back in full pads after a day off, there was live tackling for the first time, and both the offense and defense took turns being the stars. Coach Nagy liked that: “I thought the offense did really well with short-yardage goal line, and then the defense came out in 7-on-7 and got some turnovers, some interceptions along with the team period,” he said. “So it’s a positive for both groups.”

Mitch Trubisky ran a “team” session early that was PERFECT: hitting Allen Robinson with a throw intentionally low to keep it away from safety Eddie Jackson, which Robinson caught for a first down; then a second one to Robinson when Mitch saw him isolated against linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski; then a high-percentage toss to tight end Trey Burton; then a monster 45-yard completion to Tarik Cohen when Mitch got him in open space against a linebacker. Bing-bing-bing-bing, just the way coach Nagy drew it up! A good crowd on hand gave the offense a huge hand. Tell them about the defense, Jane.

Definitely, Ken. The defensive guys must’ve had their feelings hurt. The DB’s got all over the receivers in a receiver-defensive back drill, which favors the offense but the DB’s weren’t having any of it. Safety Adrian Amos broke up a Mitch pass to Robinson, fellow safety Deandre Houston-Carson picked off a Mitch pass to wideout Benny Fowler, and that was followed by a clean deflection by cornerback Prince Amukamara. Prince broke up another pass in a later “team” session and intercepted a Mitch pass that was too high and off Kevin White’s hands.

The offense was strong, though, and Kevin got his revenge with a grab against Prince, and Kevin might still be running. Jordan Howard caught a TD pass from Mitch in the goal-line period, rookie undrafted free agent running back Ryan Nall broke a 35-yard TD run, rookie receiver Anthony Miller took a ball away from cornerback Marcus Cooper for what would’ve been a 65-yard TD.

The defense got back at them, though, Jane.

And then some. In the LB-vs.-TE/RB pass-protection session, rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts bull-rushed tight end Adam Shaheen completely over backwards and came clean on a rush with a textbook arm-over against Trey Burton, and OLB Isaiah Irving bull-rushed tight end Burton back into the simulated “quarterback.” But the offensive guys won enough that the coaches made BOTH groups do the “losers’” 10 pushups after the drill.

More hitting due on Friday in another full-pad practice. Coach Nagy lets players know, for a reason: “The ‘live’ is great for the run game and then it’s also good for the perimeter type runs and passes to see how your corners and safeties come up and tackle.  So I just think what it does is, you can kind of get a sense when you tell them, ‘It’s live,’ and they hear that and they’re coming on the field it kinds of gives you those little butterflies in there that say, ‘OK, now we go, it’s go time.’

“And there’s no excuse. If I get trucked, it wasn’t that ‘it was ‘thud’ and I wasn’t ready. If I get trucked, it’s, ‘I knew that it was live and I got beat one on one.’ It allows you to truly evaluate these players out there and again it gets you some bumps and bruises, which is good for you. We talked about being calloused. That’s a part of being calloused.”

There was more but that’s enough for now. We might take a trip to Platteville for old times’ sake, but for now, we’re here!

See you when we’re back!

(signed) Ken and Jane Nierman.

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