BOURBONNAIS — Mother Nature forced the Bears to call audibles for the second practice in four days, but head coach Marc Trestman was pleased with how things went in the team's return to Olivet Nazarene Univeristy.
“I thought the players did a good job today of handling change again and handling the off day,” Trestman told reporters in the rain. “We were better today in practice after an off day than we were a week ago after the off day. The energy was very good.”
The Bears pushed Monday’s practice up four hours with inclement weather expected to hit in the afternoon, but rain soaked the final minutes of practice in front of a small crowd.
Last Wednesday, when the Bears followed up an off-day with a practice, they got off to a slow start, but things seemed smooth on Monday.
When team drills began, the Bears’ defense came out in the nickel without Julius Peppers, who rested on Monday after experiencing tightness in his hamstring at Saturday night’s practice. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea was held out of team drills Monday as a precaution because of tightness in is hip.
The changes had Corey Wootton, who returned to full strength after a hip injury, at defensive end and Nate Collins playing on the interior. One of the stars of camp, cornerback Isaiah Frey, picked off a Jay Cutler pass intended for Martellus Bennett, who had slipped on the play.
“He made a play. Whether another player fell down or not he made another play today,” Trestman said about the 2012 sixth-round pick. “He’s shown up each and every day and certainly with Kelvin [Hayden] down now and being week to week his ability to play nickel and play the corner and be part of the mix in finding the best group of DBs and corners that we can, it’s going to be very important.”
On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Earl Bennett remained out, as he is still getting rest and evaluation for a concussion, but left tackle Jermon Bushrod returned to full pads. He only participated in team drills, and Trestman said that Bushrod will have to be at 100 percent to play in Carolina on Friday night.
“It’s about easing myself back in and trying to get myself into shape like I was before,” said Bushrod. “It’s just about taking it one day at a time.”