Head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears talks with Jay Cutler #6 as his team stretches prior to a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Rumor has it that Jay Cutler and some members of the offense got together to practice, despite the lockout that prevents the Bears from stepping foot on any NFL facilities. The Bears aren't the first team to do this, as the Giants and Saints have also had practice sessions without any coaches present.
Lovie Smith was happy to hear that his team was working out, even if he couldn't be there.
"It's important," coach Lovie Smith said during an interview on ESPN when told Cutler had planned the workouts. "The skill guys can get together, but what's really important right now is all of our players are out working out."
But safety Chris Harris has his concerns about the workouts his teammates are doing. Since he's a defensive player, he wasn't involved, but he discussed the downside of such workouts for his teammates.
“Being the competitors we are, we’re going to compete,” said safety Chris Harris, who attended a charity event hosted by ex-Bear Jerry Azumah on Wednesday night. “You are in 7-on-7 or 1-on-1, and one bad move and you can hurt yourself. Teams don’t have an obligation to keep you. They can let you go because you did that on your own.
“You’re not protected doing these organized things. You could end up at a local emergency room paying out of your own pocket to get fixed up.”
Both Smith and Harris are right. The most important thing is that the Bears are working out. Whenever the lockout ends, they will come back rusty. They will have to work hard to find their rhythm and learn how to play with each other all over again. That will be true for every team in the NFL. But what the team cannot afford to waste time on is getting players back into football condition when they could have kept up their conditioning throughout the lockout.
But Harris is right to worry about what could happen in these practices. One turned ankle, one bad inadvertent hit, one little injury could end it all for a player. It would not only injure a player, but it would take away his means to pay for the recovery.
If Cutler and the boys want to work out together, that's fine, but there also plenty of risks for the team. Those risks should not be ignored.