The Heat is on

The Bears will do something Monday morning that they haven't since late January. Chicago's first practice today will be in full pads, which signals hitting.

During several off-season camps and workouts there was competition, but a lack of physical play.

Still, there is some caution in 90 plus degree weather. Padded practices will be conducted in the morning, when it's cooler. Afternoon sessions will be held in shorts.

"If the afternoon looks like it's going to be a threat in terms of heat," Bears head coach Dick Jauron said, "we'll move it to an evening practice, under the lights in the stadium."

Linebacker Bobbie Howard left last Friday's afternoon practice early when he experienced cramping, and he was held out of Saturday's morning practice before returning in the afternoon.

"That was just as a precaution," Jauron said. "He's had a little bit of a history of this, so we really watch him."

The heat-related deaths last year of Northwestern's Rashidi Wheeler and the Minnesota Vikings' Korey Stringer have intensified the focus on a common-sense approach to warm-weather workouts, but Jauron and the Bears always have placed a premium on players' safety.

The team will consult with head trainer Tim Bream and the Bears' medical staff and alter the schedule if necessary in the interest of safety.

When it comes to live drills with game-like collisions, players will have to watch out for themselves.

"It's a dramatic difference for everybody, for the players," Jauron said. "Of course, it helps in the evaluation. It's a lot harder obviously for them physically. The heat will affect them more.

"So we've got to make sure we watch all of that when we play in pads. But we need to get them on. We really need to evaluate everybody again, re-evaluate, and particularly the people we don't know."


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