The Bears simulated a full mock game at Halas Hall Wednesday night, pitting the starters vs. the reserves and bringing in everything from portable lights to a live DJ to, yes, the Bear raid siren.The good news: the Bears won. Not so good: a scary fight broke out between RG Kyle Long and backup DE Jalen Dalton and fellow starting guard Cody Whitehair exited early with a finger injury on his left hand.
We’ll go first with the relatively good news — Matt Nagy saying after practice he thinks Whitehair will be OK. A Pro Bowl alternate who played every rep at center last season, Whitehair transitioned offseason ahead of his contract year to left guard, where he’s appeared natural throughout camp while working with the starters in practice from start to finish.
“I don’t think he [broke it], but I’m not even sure to tell you the truth,” Nagy said of Whitehair, who was spotted in street clothes on the far sideline near the end of practice. “But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fine is what I’m told.”
Also a positive: the Bears have strong interior OL depth with experienced utility backup Ted Larsen back for his second stint with the club and likely the first man up, and promising undrafted rookie Alex Bars waiting in the wings.
But the Long-Dalton fight — the third skirmish in as many practices for the Bears after a harmonious first two-plus weeks of camp — was anything but positive. Long, who apparently took exception to a block by one of Dalton’s fellow O-linemen during an interception return on the previous series, went completely berserk, removing Dalton’s helmet and appearing to connect at least a couple times in a wild sequence with Dalton doing very little retaliating.
“It’s the competitive nature of the guys,” Matt Nagy said. “Yesterday to me was a little bit more of a pillow fight. Today I thought was a little bit, just like I said, it’s disappointing.”
Long was forcibly removed from the middle of the field by LT Charles Leno, with Leno attempting to calm down his good friend. Long then went to the sidelines with the reserves, and Kyle Fuller came across the field to briefly chat with him and continue diffusing the situation.
The Bears’ longest-tenured homegrown player and a three-time Pro Bowler, Long had been enjoying perhaps his best camp ever, if not at least the past three years, when he’s been beset by one injury after the next. But three days after a verbal spat with Akiem Hicks on getaway day in Bourbonnais, he took his frustrations out on Dalton.
“We’re more mature than that,” Nagy said, adding that he’d soon be discussing the incident with both men. I know that I personally expect more from us.”
But Nagy had no explanation for the increased tensions and altercations over his team’s past three practices.
“I don’t have an answer for you. We talk about it as a team,” he said. “I think at some point in time, we’ve got to prove that we’re a mature team. We are — I’ve been saying it to you guys for a long time, we have a bunch of high-character people. That starts with us as coaches, making sure we lead these guys the right way. And we also make sure that, you know, they understand that that can’t happen. It just can’t happen. It’s not going to happen, but we’ll handle that internally. I’ll have man-to-man, one-on-one discussions with everybody to make sure it’s handled the right way.”
The fight obscured an interesting scripted scrimmage that included an especially ferocious performance by the first-team ‘D’ with at least six interceptions of backup QBs Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray, a couple beautiful connections between Mitch Trubisky and Trey Burton and a bounce-back night in the kicking competition.
Preseason 2 hints? Nagy was asked whether the mock game, which is expected to be a singular event in this year’s camp, would have an effect on his play-time plans for the second preseason game Friday night against the New York Giants. In typical Nagy fashion, he wasn’t giving too much away but his tone suggested we might not see much of the starters — who played only one series in the first exhibition game — if at all.
“They got a lot of reps out here tonight … and I like that they got a lot of reps,” Nagy said.