BOURBONNAIS — Coach-speak has become a way of life in professional sports and there are times when even the most genuine of human beings who also happen to be head coaches or managers attempt to be informative or complimentary and instead come off sounding more like cheerleaders or public relations directors.
But when head coach Matt Nagy talks about Chicago Bears fans, there is gratitude and genuineness in his voice, his eyes and his message that feels real.
Saturday marked the Bears' second-to-last practice in Bourbonnais this summer and Bears fans descended on the area in record numbers, a crowd one Bears official told PFW was in excess of 15,000.
As he has several times in the past few weeks, Nagy opened his remarks to the media after practice with a heartfelt thank you to Bears fans.
“First off I just want to thank all the fans coming out here," he said. "The first day we were out here and now the last day, it’s surreal and we appreciate it.
“I don’t want to be remiss in thanking everybody. It’s pretty cool.”
While the weather could not have been any more perfect, the practice itself was a mixed bag.
The bad news came in one-on-one passing drills, when wide receiver Anthony Miller appeared to turn or sprain his right ankle while trying to make a juggling catch on Kyle Fuller.
After the pass fell incomplete, Miller stayed down for a few minutes while a trainer attended to him, and when he did leave the field under his own power it was with the slightest of hitches in his giddy up.
Miller did not return to practice — and Nagy had no word yet on his condition afterwards.
The good news was limited but encouraging as starting “U" tight end Trey Burton was on the field for stretching and individual drills at the beginning of practice for the first time in over a week before sitting out all of the teamwork the rest of the day.
Nagy said of Burton, “With Trey – just so when we keep going with the questions – this plan that we have, we’ll slowly just kind of get him back, see how he’s feeling and we’ll go off of that.
“We want to make sure he’s right for Sept. 5. Quite honestly I could [not] care less about the preseason.”
Nagy added, “He’s a mature kid that understands what we’re trying to do. Anybody that’s a competitor like Trey, you want to be out there with your guys.
“But we have to sometimes protect the player from the player and that’s what we’re kind of doing.”
Burton also met the media for the first time in over a week and added, “Good, man, I’m feeling really good.”
Asked for details on whether or not he’s had a setback in his return from sports hernia surgery, Burton explained, “No, it was just to get back to where I need to be. I was a little sore, just getting back to where I felt like I was comfortable.”
Burton added, “It’s been really frustrating. I want to be out there with the guys. I can’t stand sitting on the sideline and not playing. It’s really, really been frustrating from that standpoint, but I know there’s a bigger picture in mind.”
That bigger picture is, as Nagy said, the opener against the Packers on Thursday Sept. 5, and when I asked Burton if he’s ever dealt with anything like this before, he acknowledged he hasn’t.
“I've never had anything like this, ever. I had a broken ankle, but that was during the offseason and never anything close to this. It's tough because I'm not that type of guy that wants to sit out. I want to go.
“And so I'm having to be held back, and they're telling me no you can't do this, you can't do that which I understand, but I don't like it.
“I have to trust them and believe in them.”
Bears fans will have to trust Nagy and Burton, too, because with Adam Shaheen practicing again but quite frankly not really showing a whole lot, tight end continues to be the biggest question mark on the Bears depth charts.