The Chicago Bears kickoff 2016 Training Camp tomorrow but the team will be without the services of three players, including OLB Pernell McPhee, who will begin camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
"McPhee, he came in in really good shape right now," GM Ryan Pace said today. "We've just got to acclimate himself into football activities so he’ll work with the trainers.
"I know he’s been working hard over the summer so that’s very encouraging. And really in the OTAs, he wasn’t doing a lot of football stuff. He was doing stuff more on the side with our strength and conditioning coaches. We [want to] build him back instead of just throwing him out there right away with full speed football drills.”
McPhee, the club's big free-agent acquisition last season, had 6.5 sacks his first year in Chicago and was a force for the defense both against the run and as a pass rusher.
"He’s definitely powerful at the point of attack. He’s big, strong. When he’s over a tight end, he’s hard for most tight ends to handle," head coach John Fox said. "The key thing is he gets his knee healthy and all of that kind of works hand in hand. What I think is just getting his knee healthy, and you saw early in the season—healthy—versus later in the season when he did injure his knee, he battled through the season and then got that fixed in the off-season. When healthy, I think you saw what he’s capable of early last season."
A leader of the defense, McPhee suffered a knee injury midway through the 2015 campaign and had a knee scope surgery in February. He did not participate in OTAs or veteran minicamp and it's unclear at this point if he'll play in the preseason.
“It’s too early to tell," Pace said. "We've got to see how he is as we’re kind of going through these activities out here.”
GM Ryan Pace sad McPhee played in the 280s last year but has dropped his weight to the 270s, in large part to help keep his knee healthy.
“The good thing is that he came in at a really good weight today," said Pace. "He’s played like in the 280’s … His weight has been all over because like in Baltimore, playing a variety of positions. Last year, he was primarily in the 280’s. And just talking to our sports-science staff, we just feel if he can play in the 270’s, he’s just going to be quicker, better on his knee and still maintain the same power.
“I just think naturally he’s a bigger guy. Naturally, he can get big. That’s why I’m so proud of him, John and I both are, kind of where he’s right now. Really it’s evident that he worked hard this summer. And I just think the lighter you are, the less pressure on your knees so for him playing at a lighter weight is going to be better because you guys know him, he’s always going to be strong. He’s just got to keep his weight down a little bit.”
McPhee has a history of knee injuries, including reconstructive surgery following his rookie season in 2011.
Also on PUP for the Bears are G Amini Silatolu and WR Marquess Wilson. Silatolu is recovering from a knee injury suffered last year, while Wilson had surgery to repair a foot injury that occured during OTAs.
Players on the preseason PUP list can be activated to the training camp roster at any time.