Bears Say Goodbye to Bourbonnais

The Bears got a lot of work done over the course of their training camp, but the team wrapped it up with final practice and headed north.

Tommie Harris is no fan of training camp.

Then again, who is?

"It's one of those things you don't enjoy, but you have to do," said the Bears defensive tackle, who started all 16 games last season. "Nobody likes practice, you just make the best out of it. That's all you can do."

The Bears, who along with the Miami Dolphins had the NFL's earliest training camps due to the preseason-opening NFL Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 8, ended their 3 1/2-week routine Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

The team isn't off the hook just yet, with practices continuing at Halas Hall, but players busted out of practice and into their vehicles in record speeds Wednesday.

"I'm glad to get home, but we have to start practice all over again," Harris said. "It's just a different place to practice."

The Bears were in a hurry from the get-go during the final practice. The one workout was scheduled for 3 p.m., but players were off the field -- and dashing to their vehicles -- by 4:15. Most of the veterans were already packed and ready to head north to Chicago, while a few rookies stayed behind to gather their belongings.

One thing the Bears didn't expect in training camp was being without first-round pick Cedric Benson the entire way in Bourbonnais. Benson, the No. 4 overall pick and running back out of Texas, remains the only first-round pick still unsigned. Reports out of camp were both parties -- the Bears and Benson's agent Eugene Parker -- weren't even in the same ballpark on a deal.

For now, there's no competition for Thomas Jones, a former first- round pick of the Cardinals.

"It's to the point where what else can I say?" Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We saw him during off-season workouts, but we need to see what (Benson) can do in pads.

"Now we're to the point to see what he can do when he gets here. We'll just have to try and catch him up as fast as we can and hopefully have him ready for that first game (Sept. 11)."

The Bears play at Indianapolis on Saturday night. Since he's definitely out for the Colts game, Benson will have missed three games. The Bears have only two preseason games remaining after that, with Buffalo (Aug. 26) and Cleveland (Sept. 1) at Soldier Field.

"I can't blame anybody. All I know is Cedric isn't in camp and exactly whose fault it is I can't say," Smith said. "But I'd say we've made a fair offer and all the other guys around him have signed."

Bears at Colts
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: RCA Dome, Indianapolis.
TV/Radio: NBC-TV (Ch. 5)/WBBM-AM (780)


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