BOURBONNAIS — Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game was a chance for the Bears’ second and third string players to showcase their progress.
Afterward, the team loaded up, returned to Olivet Nazarene University and went back to practice Saturday. But head coach Matt Nagy wasn’t overly thrilled with what he saw on the field.
“Today was an OK day, but we’ve got to get the juices flowing much better,” he said. “We could have been better, though, especially on the offensive end with picking the tempo up. I think the guys are starting to see now what it means to get into details and stay in their playbooks. This isn’t an offense where you can skip days. Otherwise, we’ll have a sloppy practice much like this one.”
As far as linebacker Kylie Fitts is concerned, he landed at the right spot with the right team when the Bears made him a sixth-round draft pick.
Although he dealt with some injuries in his final two years at the University of Utah, Fitts is back at 100 percent and showed a little bit of what he’s capable of in Thursday’s game, finishing with four tackles and a sack.
“It was tough last season dealing with injuries and missing all of those plays,” Fitts said. “But I try to ignore it now that I’m at the top level. I can’t think about injuries; I just have to come out and perform really well.”
Nagy has said Fitts is one of the players who really has made a name for himself with his motor and relentless mentality, although it has to be somewhat controlled at times. But with the lack of depth at linebacker, Fitts might carve out a starting job.
“He has a motor on him that is neverending,” Nagy said. “He’s had a great camp and continues to make progress.”
“It’s great to be called out like that with praise, but at the same time, you have to ignore it, stay humble and continue to grind everyday,” Fitts said.
No player had more balls thrown their way than Javon Wims against Baltimore. He was targeted 10 times and caught seven passes for 89 yards.
He virtually was guaranteed a first down every catch. That’s just a small element of what Wims can do with the ball in his hands.
Normally, Wims is used to being on the outside because of his 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame, but the Bears are challenging him by moving him into a slot position to be more than just a 50-50, jump-ball type of receiver.
“The move has challenged me to be a lot quicker and to always have a plan,” Wims said. “I can use my frame, which is always a positive, but it also gives me the chance to be more versatile.
“The great thing about this offense is that every receiver has to know every spot. Although you’re a receiver, you’re also kind of positionless at the same time, which allows the coaches to plug you in a different spot and take advantage of mismatches.”
Wims acknowledged he isn’t the biggest, nor the fastest, guy at receiver, but Thursday showed a taste of what is possible. For now, whether he starts, plays on special teams or does something different, he’s ready for action.
“I’m blessed to be here,” Wims said. “And whatever the teams wants, needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.”