"It’s voluntary-mandatory, at least for me even if it’s a voluntary mini-camp I think it’s still important to be around and show up, especially when you have a whole new coaching (staff) and new offense going in," said WR Bobby Wade. "I think everybody is pretty much taking that mandatory approach."
Wade returned to practice after missing parts of all three mini-camps because of an injured calf muscle. With heavy competition at wideout Wade, now in his second-year, can’t afford to fall behind.
"It was a rough practice today, but it’s just the fact that being out here knowing my leg is getting stronger and everything is going well with that," Wade said. "We have 13 more of these to get better, so hopefully I can catch-up and get back on track, which I’m sure I will."
For the rookies the next six weeks are a chance to settle into a practice routine and an opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff.
"The way I see it, these practices are listed on our schedule as being voluntary, but there’s really nothing ‘voluntary’ about it," Tommie Harris said. "We’re in the NFL now and we have to show that we are willing to work. That’s all good. It’s a chance to begin to feel like a professional. A few weeks ago at mini camp, I felt like I was still at Oklahoma. That mindset is beginning to-change now. But I realize that I still have a long way to go before I am ready to consider myself an NFL level player."
Harris and fellow DT Terry Johnson have high expectations, but there is a lot of work that goes into earning a starting role as rookies.
"There’s so much to learn right now," Harris said. "Tank and I are just taking our time and soaking it all in. I feel like a sponge. The playback is huge, but what’s in makes sense. Our goal right now is to learn t he plays, to orient ourselves, and to show the coaches that we have what it takes to make this team."
Mike Gandy, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in late April, watched practice with Marc Colombo. Gandy has been rehabbing the injury for three weeks and could be ready to go as early as next week.
Rex Grossman not only sported a new pair of blue and orange striped cleats, but news of his recent engagement to Alison Miska spread throughout Halas Hall.
David Terrell yielded a word of warning to the 23-year-old quarterback.
"Don’t do it," Terrell said jokingly.
The Bears are hoping that Terrell can show more of a willingness to commit to the team than his outlook on marriage.
Beth Gorr contributed to this article.