If there was any doubt that the Bears’ first title defense campaign in nine years, and their 100th year in existence, brings with it as much anticipation locally and nationally as any season in recent memory, Saturday’s fan turnout for the first open practice of training camp should remove it.

Thousands of fans flocked to Bourbonnais to take in the 8:15 practice at Olivet Nazerene University, where longtime Bears beat reporters took note of the welcome change, noting not only the throngs of fans but their repping the current players as much if not more than some of the more popular choices we're usually more accustomed to seeing.

And fans apparently were treated to an entertaining practice, albeit the final one before pads come on for the first time Sunday. Early on, Matt Nagy, as promised, ramped up the competitiveness of one-on-one drills, with WR1 Allen Robinson and first-team All Pro CB Kyle Fuller doing battle. After Robinson defeated Fuller, hauling in a pass from Mitch Trubisky — only the three were on the field for the drill — the defense was forced to do up-downs.

Later in the practice, WR2 Taylor Gabriel was unable to beat CB2 Prince Amukamara, and it was the offense’s turn to pay the price with up-downs.

Fans also were treated to the first glimpse of camp’s much-ballyhooed kicking battle. Elliott Fry was first up and pushed his first attempt from 33 yards wide right before drilling seven consecutive tries — including a 60-yarder, notable no matter the kicker but more so because Fry is known more for his accuracy, unlike fellow challenger, strong-legged Eddy Pineiro.  

Stay tuned. PFW will have plenty of updates coming soon from camp's second practice.