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NFL notebook: Tough to keep a sick man down

Caption
(AP)
Bears guard Kyle Long stretches during the team's first day of practices at training camp Friday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

BOURBONNAIS — In a sport known for its slew of injuries, the Bears actually began training camp at full health, with all 90 players dressed for the first practice Friday, although one starter was missing from the full team drills early on.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton, who signed an $8.45 million franchise tender for the season, took a little time before getting into action. Nate Collins ran with the first-team line next to Stephen Paea before Melton got in a few reps.

“I was trying to get over a little sickness I had, so they were taking care of me,” Melton said. When asked if it was the flu or food poisoning, Melton laughed. “A little bit of both.”

Melton reiterated that the defense is very much the same under new coordinator Mel Tucker.

“Mel might mix up some things; he might add his own twists on some things, but it’s pretty much the same,” he said.

An impressive interior pass-rusher who notched six sacks last season, Melton eventually made his presence felt when he got on the field, knocking down two passes, something he knows ticks off his quarterback.

“I always try to make Cutler mad,” Melton said. “He doesn’t like when I do that.”

Speed it up: During team drills – 11-on-11 work – the Bears picked up the practice pace, something we’ve come to know is a preference of Trestman. At one point, the head coach yelled, “It’s not a symposium, get the play going!”

His assistants are also very vocal. After practice, Trestman said the fast pace is designed to create chaos for the Bears to better prepare them for Sundays.

“Things happen so fast on Sunday that, if we can create that environment as much as possible here – more game-like – we hope that they’ll play better and we believe they will,” Trestman explained.

Brown v. Long, Day 1: The only position battle on offense is at right guard. James Brown got the first reps, as expected, and then first-round pick Kyle Long slid in with the first team. Long missed minicamp because of his graduation.

“They want to see me on film, because they didn’t have an opportunity to see me in the OTAs or the minicamps, so it makes sense,” Long said about the alternating. “I don’t make anything of it, I just want to go out and earn every rep. That’s what I’m here to do.”

Highlight reel: The plays that caught the eyes of the media and fans today included a one-handed catch by Brandon Marshall, a slick pass breakup on a deep ball by cornerback Zack Bowman, interceptions by Chris Conte and Kelvin Hayden, several receptions by Martellus Bennett and a solid grab by wideout Jerrell Jackson.

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