Bear down, Bears: Training camp opens this week
- Check the Bears website before you travel to the camp. Sometimes weather -- or the team -- may cancel that day’s workouts.
- Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and lawn chairs. There is very little shade and it’s usually quite hot out.
- Bring your camera; you will have up-close Bear sightings. (But don’t feed them!)
- There is a play area for young children. However, the practices may be rather boring for them and the weather can be pretty intense (in other words — they will be miserable).
- There are opportunities for older kids to get autographs and sometimes photos with the players. But remember, this is a working environment for the players. They will accommodate you when they can.
- There are plenty of signs around the town to point you in the right direction of the college. The Bears use more than one part of the facility.
- If you think you can just roam around the campus, forget it. Security is everywhere, so don’t go wandering. (Remember Bears are dangerous in the wild!)
- It’s free — what a bargain! With Bears single game ticket prices going up and tailgating in some parking lots up to $49 this is a good opportunity to see the team on the cheap.
- If you don’t want to drive down to camp but you still have the urge to see the team before the pre-season schedule, they offer Fan Fest at Soldier Field on Saturday, Aug 3rd at 7 p.m. There are several activities, but the two-hour practice is the main feature. There is an $8 admission fee.
What can fans expect at camp?
On the other side of the 7-on-7 drills is the Bears defense. Of course they are anchored by their two linebackers and perennial Pro-Bowlers, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Additionally, proven veterans Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers are part of the core — which many feel is showing its age. That is why top draft selection, Defensive End Shea McClellin from Boise State, will be one to watch. We’ll see how much time he plays with the second, and possibly the first, unit.
What is at stake this pre-season?
The Bears were closing in on a playoff berth last year; then everything fell apart when they lost Cutler and Forte to injuries. It cost Jerry Angelo his job as GM. Now head coach Lovie Smith is in the final year of his contract and he knows his future may be determined this year. This training camp will be important for Smith to finalize a roster to go into the 2012 season and produce a winner. That is a big factor to watch when the Bears break camp in August and the regular season begins on Sunday, September 9th when they host top NFL draft pick Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
If you want to whet your appetite, checking out a day of Bear camp may just do that.