BOURBONNAIS | You don't see these many smiling Bears during feeding time at the zoo.
But Tuesday was all smiles for new coach Marc Trestman and his squad as they finished training camp at Olivet Nazarene University with no major injuries, great optimism and a promising youth movement.
Even quarterback Jay Cutler seemed content, despite the likelihood of rookies Jordan Mills and Kyle Long opening the regular season at right tackle and right guard, respectively.
Cutler was sacked 38 times in 2012 and has been put on his backside 148 times in 56 regular season games since joining the Bears.
"The hardest thing is trying to be more patient," said Mills, a fifth-round pick from Louisiana Tech. "Coming from college, you want to just thrash everybody, go full speed.
"The thing I have to learn is to be more mature, be more patient. Every time we make a mistake, we got veterans on the sideline with constructive criticism on how to correct it and get it done."
Said Long, a first-round pick: "When I first got here, I didn't know anything. I know so much now, but I still have miles and miles to go."
Good luck, Jay Cutler.
"I've played with rookies before," he said. "Ryan Clady was a rookie tackle my third year when I played in Denver and he did a great job.
"The two rookies we've got now are pretty far along. They're really talented guys, physically. We'll get 'em caught up mentally. They want to be in there. They want to do a good job and that's the important thing."
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer says neither has done anything yet to earn a starting role.
"There's a lot of natural ability in both the guys," he said. "(Mills) has more experience than the other playing the offensive line position. But they're rookies. They have a lot to learn. It's gonna take time.
"But the only way they can learn is by doing it. Last week, they both got 51 reps in the game which is the most on the offensive line and this week they'll get a lot again for more hands-on experience."
The Bears (0-1) play host to the San Diego Chargers (0-1) in preseason action Thursday night and coaches want to see more offense than the 17 points scored at Carolina a week ago -- 10 of it coming on a Robbie Gould field goal and Jonathan Bostic interception return.
"We're moving along," Cutler insisted. "There's ups and downs, positives and negatives. We're looking at those negatives and want to fix them quickly as possible, then continue to find more positives."
It was the same old Bears against Carolina. They rushed for only 70 yards, passed for 221 and the O-line allowed seven sacks.
"It's preseason. We're still figuring out exactly what plays to use that we like and we're good at," Cutler said. "We're not game planning like a regular week.
"It's a new offense. It's different guys. You can't really say if we should be here or we should be there. There's too many variables. But guys are getting more comfortable with the offense."
Its most appealing factor, according to the strong-armed QB, is not being a stationary target.
"You get rid of the ball and quick," Cutler said, smiling. "You're not back there going through your reads. You get it to playmakers. You got play action.
"You'll have multiple personnel. Multiple formations. It's just quarterback friendly."