NFL training camp is an intense experience. Incredible athletes practice in high temperatures with their livelihoods on the line. It’s sure to ruffle some feathers, even on a team as talented and deep as the Chicago Bears. While most players focus on executing their specific roles on the team, an occasional fight has been known to break out.
The Bears recently had an altercation at training camp. Let’s take a closer look at what happened, who was involved, and what it means for the Bears in 2019.
The fight at Chicago Bears training camp
According to Pro Football Weekly, the Bears held a mock game between starters and reserves on August 14, 2019. Unfortunately, during the scrimmage, a fight broke out between two players, which left their teammate injured. This fight was the team’s third tussle in as many practices. Head coach Matt Nagy reacted with disappointment:
I think at some point in time, we’ve got to prove that we’re a mature team … 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.
The Bears players involved
After an interception, right guard Kyle Long thought a block was out of line. During the ensuing series, he got into it with backup defensive end Jalen Dalton (who was not responsible for the block). He removed Dalton’s helmet, swung his own, and hit Dalton with several punches despite the defensive end not appearing to fight back.
Left tackle Charles Leno had to remove Long while another teammate, Kyle Fuller, tried to help calm him down on the sidelines. Nagy chalked it up to the players’ “competitive nature,” but it was a scary moment nonetheless. Pro Football Weekly also reported that Long got into a “verbal spat” with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks three days prior.
It’s not clear what’s causing these internal issues. Other than these incidents, the team appears to have the potential to play very well in 2019.
A Bears 2019 season preview
This year the Bears appear ready to contend again. Despite the training camp discord, the team is in good shape. While the Packers will likely look better than last year and the Vikings also look competitive, some points are in Chicago’s favor as to why they could win the NFC North.
Last year, the Bears made the playoffs behind a solid defense with a 12-win team. They would’ve advanced if not for a last-second missed field goal against Philadelphia in the wild-card round. Nagy made finding a kicker a high priority in the offseason. Now, Eddy Pineiro is the odds-on favorite to replace kicker Cody Parkey.
Chicago’s schedule isn’t exactly cake. They have the fifth most difficult schedule overall. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made some strides last year, and the team will look for him to develop further. While the running game may miss lead rusher Jordan Howard, who departed for Philadelphia, the Bears is excited about third-round draft pick David Montgomery.
The Bears need to use training camp fights as motivation to pull together. If they let the internal strife continue to consume the team, it’s not going to be an easy road back to the playoffs.