Now that the NFL Draft is behind us the Bears’ coaches have begun to get a close-up look at their picks. A three-day rookie camp opened up Friday in Lake Forest.
The coaches began molding these rookies into their idea of what a Chicago Bear is and should be. There are 84 players on the rookie camp roster. Almost all of them will be gone by the time the veteran arrive for OTAs begin in three weeks. But the five drafted players are pretty much locks to make the team.
Running back and third round pick David Montgomery certainly is a lock. He has been given the number 32.
Then there’s rookie cornerback Duke Shelley. He was given number 33, a number worn by another famous Bears cornerback Peanut Tillman. Shelley met Tillman Thursday.
“I didn’t know I was going to have it (Tillman’s jersey number) until after I talked to him, so I’ll have to hit him up and let him know I’ll represent him well,” said Shelley.
Wide receiver and fourth round pick Riley Ridley stood out in his number 88 jersey with his 6’2 inch frame. Seventh round pick running back Kerrith Whyte looked sculpted in his number 38 jersey.
For all of these guys it’s a little surreal to put on an NFL uniform for the first time.
“It still feels like, well it’s not a dream but it’s still like I finally made it to the NFL, so I’m just happy to be here,” said rookie cornerback Stephen Denmark another seventh round draft pick.
There’s a lot for these young players to learn in a short time. When they’re not learning plays or where they’re supposed to be on the field they’re bonding together.
“Me and Ridley we talked a little bit,” said Shelley. “Montgomery, me and him talked, both coming out of the Big 12 we’re familiar with each other so it was good.” “They’re kind of at the same place as me right now just soaking it all in right now.”
Of the 84 players on the rookie camp roster eight of them are kickers, but only two of the eight were able to make a 43 yard field goal attempt Friday with the rest of the team watching. 43 yards is the distance Cody Parkey missed from in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles in January.
“Two-for-eight, that’s not good enough,” said head coach Matt Nagy. “Now I will say this, we always look at the end result of what happens which is 100 percent of what matters, right? But as we’re learning, two of those eight holds and snaps, it wasn’t 100 percent. I’ll leave it at that. So we’ve got to work through that. That’s why after today we’re not going to just go make rash decisions or anything. We’re going to play it out.”