Maybe it was just an omen.
About this time last year the Bears were coming into Chicago for a Friday night practice at Soldier Field, complete with 20,000 fans in what has been a fun tailgate party in recent years.
Instead, the Soldier Field turf was in appalling condition and deemed (correctly, in the opinion of all who walked it that night) unfit for play. The practice was canceled, the Bears went back down to Bourbonnais for what turned out to be an excellent private night practice, and fans went home without a football fix.
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It was a harbinger of bad times on the lakefront field. In consecutive games at Soldier Field last year, issues took place unrelated to the turf, but perhaps not the energy:
--Chris Williams went out for the year with a wrist injury vs. Detroit;
--Jay Cutler (and the season, as it turned out) was lost there the following week;
--Matt Forte followed the same course the next time the Bears played in Soldier Field, two weeks later, with his knee injury;
--And Johnny Knox suffered his back injury in the next, and mercifully final, home game.
The Bears believe the energy and turf have improved from those times.
Were just excited to go down there, said coach Lovie Smith. Its a little different when you go down and stay here. So for some of our guys that are new, Brandon Marshall has ever been on our side of the ball at Soldier Field.
Thats always big. Weve had great response from our fans. But we get an opportunity to let some more of our fans see their ballclub this year. Were excited about that. Were going to go through a regular practice with a little scrimmage at the end.