Bears emphasize teaching with rookies

New coach Marc Trestman leads his first rookie minicamp with the Bears on Friday. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Similar to the way it handled a recent voluntary veteran minicamp, the Chicago Bears coaching staff basically held the hands of the team's rookies Friday during its rookie minicamp with the focus being mostly on the players learning how to practice as opposed to actual plays.

The players arrived at the team's facilities Thursday, and spent meeting time Friday "specifically teaching them how we want to practice," according to coach Marc Trestman, who divulged the team ran plays off index cards during its first workout.

The rookies certainly felt the difference from their college practices to the up-tempo workouts the Bears conduct under Trestman.

"The pace was different; a lot faster," said linebacker Khaseem Greene, a fourth-round pick. "They say when you go from high school to college it's faster. When you go from college to the NFL, it's faster. That stood true (here). It was fun just to be out there. But the pace was definitely faster, and the work was a lot more taxing on your body. But at the same time, it's on us to take care of our bodies."

By spending the first day of rookie minicamp working on how to practice as opposed to teaching schemes, the Bears can glean from the practice tape a sense of the speed of the players, their conditioning levels and explosive movement.

"We were less concerned with their assignments because they just got here," Trestman said. "Just overall, it was a good day. We got a lot done. We got a lot on tape to evaluate and teach from today so we can get them in the right place so (that) tomorrow they'll be more assignment ready and alignment ready."

Until the team actually puts on the pads, the staff knows the difficulty of making any true evaluation regarding its talent. Because of the NFL's rules, the Bears can't start any contact drills until training camp.

So the only choice is to try to assess talent off the limited workouts NFL rules allow.

"We're all in shorts here today. So we evaluate what we try to evaluate, and that is we can see some speed on tape, and we can feel that speed. We can see their explosive movement and those types of things," Trestman said. "We're not going to be in pads for a while with our veterans either. So we do the best we can in shorts and try to teach and learn our system and learn our football in all three sides of the football. When we get pads on in training camp we'll even have a better idea of where our players are."

Second-round linebacker Jonathan Bostic called the first day of rookie minicamp "exciting," but as a middle linebacker "it's tough at first" because at that position "you've got to make sure the defensive line is lined up, and at the same time you've got to be on the same page with the secondary."

"There's a lot of things going into it," Bostic said. "But it's the first day. Coach just really wanted to get the tempo going, show us how to practice today. Tomorrow, we've got to make sure we're cleaning up everything we made mistakes on today."

Greene agreed.

"We just want to show them that we can play football," he said. "(We want to show) that we can take it from the classroom inside onto the field, not make mistakes, and play fast and play aggressive; show them that we know what they're doing (and that) they made the right choice in bringing us in."