A day after the Bears watched teammate Avery Sebastian taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a scrimmage, they delivered what coach Sonny Dykes called “probably the best practice we’ve had this year, maybe since I’ve been here.”
Dykes said he and his staff were concerned about how the players might respond following Monday’s difficult circumstances.
“They were ready. They answered the call today in a big way,” he said. “Very, very productive practice. I was really pleased with the way we came out and worked today.”
Dykes was pleased despite the fact he had a number of players absent from practice in order to attend to academics as the end of the summer session approaches.
“The way they’ve practiced so far, it’s OK. They’ve come out and worked hard,” he said. “Obviously, academics is going to be critical for us. We’re going to let them go when they have to take care of something.”
Asked if any players are on the fence academically and could be at risk, Dykes said, “I don’t think so, no. A couple guys if they had a disastrous summer school might be in question, possibly Moose (Mustafa Jalil), possibly Chris McCain.
“But they’re both doing fine in their classes and anticipate them being with us.”
— Dykes said the quarterback race between Zach Kline and Jared Goff remains close enough that he doesn’t anticipate naming a starter before the end of the week.
Goff got most of the reps Tuesday with the first team, but Dykes said that will be reversed on Wednesday.
Still, he said both were very good Tuesday. “I thought this was the sharpest they’ve been,” Dykes said. “You would expect that because they’ve gotten more reps.”
Both quarterbacks are making quicker reads now, but staying out of third-and-long situations remains an issue for the entire offense.
— Without safety Avery Sebastian for at least the time being, redshirt freshman Damariay Drew got more time with the first team. He made the best of it, Dykes said.
“Thought he had a good day. He showed up a lot more,” Dykes said. “Demariay is one of those guys who just gets better and better the more reps he gets. This is his opportunity to make a name for himself.”
— The Bears also welcomed back to practice safety Alex Logan, who has been sidelined with a foot injury. “Obviously, he’s chomping at the bit to practice. We’ve really progressed him slowly,” Dykes said. “It was good to get him back out there. Saw him moving around — he looked pretty comfortable.”
— Also back in action was middle linebacker Nick Forbes, who has done very little the past week because of tightness in his back.
— Sidelined was linebacker Khairi Fortt (bruised knee). Still on the shelf are receiver Maurice Harris (hand) and defensive back Trey Cheek (hamstring).
— Earning praise from Dykes were a pair of redshirt freshmen running backs who are fighting for a spot in the mix — Jonah Hodges and Jeffrey Coprich. “Jonah’s one of those guys everytime you call his number he seems to make plays for you.
“Coprich has kind of been the same way,” Dykes said. “Both of those guys are quick, they’re elusive. Both are improving as receivers coming out of the backfield.”
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