BOURNONNAIS, Ill. -- Twelve games on the schedule for the Chicago Bears in 2013 feature noon kickoffs, which is part of head coach Marc Trestman's logic in making his team hit the field early for training camp workouts at Olivet Nazarene University.
"I've just felt that with our 12 o’clock starting (times), we want to build a habit," Trestman said.
In doing so, the players have to break from the norm they'd become accustomed to under former Bears coach Lovie Smith, who often held workouts during the heat of the day in the early evening and at night during his nine-year tenure.
"We know that players like an itinerary," Trestman said. "They like to know where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to do. On Sunday in September we've got 12 o’clock game(s)."
Three that month, to be precise, starting with the Sept. 8 opener at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We’ve got to get up early,” he added. “We’ve got to get ourselves and our body functions moving the right direction so we can be ready to come out of the gate at 12 o’clock and be ready to play. This allows them to do that.”
The new schedule for practice also adds time for recuperation for the players. By conducting practices early in the day, the players receive more time to rest, which will be important under Trestman, given the fast-break style of workouts the team will conduct.
The plan, Trestman said, is for the team to take a similar approach once training camp breaks and it returns to Halas Hall to prepare for the regular season.
The Bears won't hit the field for practice until Thursday, and Trestman said the sessions this summer will be similar to the ones the club conducted during its final three-day minicamp. In fact, Trestman said the workout Friday and Saturday "will look exactly the same as they did during the minicamp," which means the team will emphasize a fast tempo and live-game simulations without heavy contact.
Trestman explained further what observers should expect to see during this year's training camp practices.
"Of course on Sunday that'll all get amped up because we'll be in full pads and that's when things will change obviously," Trestman said. "We're going to see collisions at the line of scrimmage. It will be much more physical. You'll see finished through the quarterback, certainly not at the quarterback. We're going to be very, very smart about what we do. You're not going to see players on the ground. You're not going to experience scrimmages.
"You're going to see very, very few collisions in the perimeter because we're going to be practice(ing) the concepts of cooperation and respect among our team. But where you'll see the change in our practices is on or near the line of scrimmage, at the first level with our offense and defensive lines, and at the second level (with) collisions with our linebackers and defensive backs that are close to the line of scrimmage. But there won't be any tackling. Running backs will be allowed to finish, and when they're allowed to finish, everybody can go and run to the ball. You won't see grabbing for jerseys. You'll see minimal tipped balls."
Parked outside a dormitory on a Segway scooter, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall welcomed the changes and new practice schedule, joking "Oh, it's nothing."
"The meetings are the bad part," Marshall said. "That's the tough part: being up at 9 or 10 o'clock at night still talking about football."