NFL: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium V…
© Kirby Lee | 2019 Jul 19
LONDON — After a swift express train trip from Heathrow to Paddington Station and an enjoyable Uber ride that included our first taste of this old and historic city’s sights and sounds, Bears Insider arrived at the Marriott Hotel Regents Park early Thursday morning, one day ahead of the Bears touching down for their battle with the Oakland Raiders Sunday in the first-ever NFL game at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Unfortunately, we arrived a little too late and a lot too exhausted following our overnight journey to catch the approximately 45-minute shuttle over to the Grove Hotel, where the Raiders will hold their second practice in Chandlers Cross, Watford.
But we’re aiming to make it over for Oakland’s availability Friday morning before the Bears practice later Friday afternoon in Greenlands Lane, London, with Matt Nagy and select players scheduled to visit afterward with the media.
The Bears provided a couple key answers before departing Wednesday, when they confirmed Mitch Trubisky will travel with the team but is unlikely to play and Roquan Smith is poised to return to the field following his surprising Week 4 deactivation with a “personal matter.”
That will shift some of our attention to monitoring the situations with DL Akiem Hicks (knee) and Bilal Nichols (hand), neither of whom practiced Wednesday at Halas Hall, and OG Kyle Long, who was limited after missing last week with a hip injury. Will they be on the team’s plane Thursday evening, and will the Bears use extra caution handling their injuries with the bye week beginning Monday?
Of course we’ll also be following the big storylines with players whose Sunday status isn’t in doubt, from the relatively slow assimilation of Anthony Miller and Trey Burton in the offense to Chase Daniel trying to improve to 3-1 as the Bears primary quarterback to, yes, a few players you might have heard used to play for the Raiders, Khalil Mack and Eddy Pineiro, and how their reacquainting is going.
Of course, how the Bears handle a variety of special circumstances, from the jet lag to time changes to managing of their time and focus in a foreign country, marks additional new challenges for the reigning Coach of the Year Nagy and could determine Sunday’s outcome.
“The nice thing for me, going through this several years ago in Kansas City when we played Detroit, you’re an assistant coach and you don’t know everything that goes into it and you take it for granted,” Nagy said, referencing his 2015 trip to play at Wembley Stadium, where the then-Chiefs QB coach oversaw a 40-9 rout of the Lions. “Now, just going through our support staff and understanding, OK, we’re going on Thursday evening and there’s so many things, just as simple as the time change, what do you do when you’re on the air plane, how does your body react when you leave a few days prior, what do you do when you get there, how does your mind act to the sleep, no sleep.
“And then when you’re there, there’s distractions. And that’s the one thing that I think over the years, there’s been some things that have distracted teams. That’s my job is prevention, making sure I’m on top of all that and we are on top of all that. So far, I feel really good with the way we’ve handled that stuff.
“And that’s part of what I was saying earlier. As long as you have control over what that is and when you do it, there’s gonna be some time for them and for all of us to enjoy why you’re there. There’s some of that to it. But make sure the majority of the balance is there for one reason, and it’s not for a vacation. It’s there to win the game. You can’t be so strict to where you just make them, prevent them from doing anything where they can relax and it’s all about the game all the time, because that’s not what it’s like when they’re home here. Enjoy some time that you get. Be smart. Be responsible. And if you do that, you’ll show us how you are mentally in practice and then you’ll prove it on gameday.”