LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears welcomed back two key members on offense as tight end Zach Miller and receiver Eddie Royal passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and practiced without restrictions Monday for the first time in close to a month.
“We’ve had them out practicing, but we just had them out of contact,” coach John Fox said. “So I think their conditioning level is pretty good. I think we’ve got some timing and stuff like that in the passing game that needs to be worked on. But [they’ve] really not been on the shelf, so to speak. They’ve been out practicing.”
Miller and Royal are eligible to play in Chicago’s preseason finale at Cleveland, but Fox seemed to downplay the importance of preseason action for experienced players.
“You know, [it’s] not particularly [important they play],” Fox said. “I’ve had a lot guys that are vets, not too many rookies, that maybe did not play. But we’ll kind of monitor that. That’s still always open. The fact that they’re cleared now that makes them legit to be active, and we’ll make those decisions as we get closer to the Cleveland game."
Fox also noted that rookie tight end Ben Braunecker and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski returned to practice on a limited basis. Kwiatkoski, the first of Chicago’s three fourth-round draft picks, has missed almost the entire preseason, making it difficult to properly evaluate the young linebacker prior to the NFL’s final roster cut down on Saturday.
“Truth be told, we didn’t see a whole lot of him,” Fox said. “Obviously, we evaluated him on his college tape. Saw him in some of the offseason stuff. He got hurt very early on in camp. It was a legit injury to his hamstring. He’s been in meetings. He’s been with us. But as far as our true evaluation, it’s a little bit of a leap of faith. We’ll kind of march down that road as we move forward.”