Story from Bears Tuesday evening practice
The calendar says Veterans Day comes in November. Lovie Smith unofficially recognized a version of it Tuesday regarding his Chicago Bears at training camp.
In fact, look for Smith to follow the routine on most days when the team has morning and evening practices.
Which veterans are sitting out can usually be identified by the floppy beige safari hats they’re wearing. Safety Mike Brown wears one when he’s given a rest, as he was Monday. Linebacker Brian Urlacher and offensive tackle John Tait sported them Tuesday morning with the sun shining brightly.
Wideouts Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian kibitzed along the sidelines. They went so far as to swap jerseys, Muhammad wearing Berrian’s No. 80 and Berrian donning Muhammad’s 87.
Even quarterback Rex Grossman’s workload was lessened, as he only conducted one series. He didn’t even wear his customary long white sleeves under his orange jersey at Olivet Nazarene University.
"The morning session is set up for the younger players to get the bulk of the work," Smith said. "It will always be like that."
Brown endorses the time off with pay plan.
"It’s the beauty of having some years under your belt," he said. "Coach Smith is a great coach. He wants us to work hard in training camp. He also wants the whole team to come out of training camp healthy because it’s the games that count."
Brown probably gets the most days off, having dealt with three season-ending injuries the past three years.
"It’s pretty cool, man," he said of the lighter load. "You can’t get mad at having a day off now and again. It’s all good.
"They have a plan for me. I just follow it day by day. The only day I’m promised is the day it’s the day. I don’t really look too far ahead into the
schedule. I know I’ve got a couple of more days off in training camp to keep me healthy, rested and what not."
Muhammad is given the most days off among the receivers. Easily.
"Just getting a little bit of extra rest," said the 34-year-old. "Sometimes the veterans need some more rest than some cerebral work out there. So I was out there just doing a little coaching, taking some mental reps.
"Lovie’s good about that. He does a great job resting the veterans when they need some rest and making sure guys aren’t overworked. The intensity level is really high when we’re working at practice."
Then there’s fifth-year linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who hasn’t enjoyed such a day yet. He laughed when asked why he hasn’t had one.
"I have no idea," he said. "It’s not up to me. I don’t know; it doesn’t matter. I’ll ask for one when I feel I need one."
Staff writer Reed Schreck can be reached at 815-987-1381 or email@example.com.