CHICAGO — In front of 29,000 fans at Soldier Field, the Bears held practice for their annual “Family Fest,” which concluded with players signing autographs for the kids.
“It was exciting to be out here tonight. You could see our players just had a blast out here. Their effort was at a high level,” head coach Marc Trestman said.
As it has been for the last four practices, though, the story for the Bears centered on injuries. Wide receiver Earl Bennett left and was evaluated for a concussion. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden injured his left hamstring and is considered week to week, and defensive end Cornelious Washington sprained his elbow.
Julius Peppers and Alshon Jeffery were tended to as well, but it was purely precautionary for hamstring tightness.
The Bears did get some good news on the injury front, though, as Corey Wootton was in pads after missing the last practice with a hip injury. He only participated in individual drills.
On the field, the practice was very similar to what we’ve seen from the Bears in Bourbonnais. This one did start with an up-tempo, two-minute-drill look.
“We have to remember that it was still just practice eight, and we have to improve as a football team,” Trestman said. “I’m sure coming out here and being in this crowd helped our energy after seven practices.”
New Bear: Tight end Leonard Pope had his first practice after signing with the Bears Saturday morning. The 6-foot-8 veteran is hard to miss, and certainly looks the part. “Obviously experience, going into the eighth year of the league,” Pope said about what he can bring to the team. “It’s not going to be easy, I’ve got to work my way. … I know what it takes to be the type of player that I need to be, so I’m just working my way up the ladder right now.” Pope will be competing with Steve Maneri, Kyle Adams, Fendi Onobun and Gabe Miller to back up starter Martellus Bennett.
Team Defense: During introductions, the offensive players came out one-by-one, and then the announcer then went to the secondary, yet no defensive backs came out of the tunnel. Then the unit came out as a group, and the linebackers and defensive line did as well.
Quick hits: The biggest roar from the crowd came on a long touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu, who beat Isaiah Frey. … Jay Cutler opened up practice with a thread-the-needle type pass to Brandon Marshall, just out of the reach of Lance Briggs. … With Hayden out, Frey worked as the first-team nickel corner. Rookie wideout Marquess Wilson got reps with the second team, as did undrafted rookie Zach Minter. ... The Bears have an off day Sunday before returning to Bourbonnais for an afternoon practice on Monday.