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Bears going back to school under Marc Trestman

Updated: August 27, 2013 6:40AM



BOURBONNAIS — Bears players are housed in dormitories on the Olivet Nazarene University campus. They eat at the campus cafeteria. They have their own version of homework.

There even are a couple of homely bars to visit across the street, if they so choose.

Training camp already is a college experience. But having new coach Marc Trestman in charge apparently has turned the clock back even further for players. The college atmosphere is about more than their surroundings.

‘‘Between [former coach] Lovie [Smith] and Trestman, there’s a lot of differences,’’ defensive tackle Stephen Paea said Thursday. ‘‘[Trestman] is more strict. Whatever he says, you’ve just got to get it done.

‘‘In a way, I think he’s bringing more discipline, the college ways of college football into the NFL, which is what I think builds championship teams. We need a more disciplined team, a team that will play as one. I feel like Trestman is handling it that way.’’

Paea isn’t alone in his thinking. Defensive end Shea McClellin, safety Major Wright and kick returner Devin Hester all talked about Trestman’s college-like approach. Early-morning starts and the conditioning test — or the ‘‘accountability test,’’ as Trestman put it — are examples.

Discipline at all costs is being demanded.

‘‘It’s more on you, pushing you more,’’ Wright said. ‘‘It’s more you being into it more. In college, there’s no sleep. Now we feel like it’s time to go.’’

There’s more to Trestman than that. He has a reputation for listening to players and adjusting his plans to their thoughts and concerns, something quarterback Jay Cutler has spoken about in the past.

It was interesting to hear the Bears talking about the college feel of Camp Trestman a day after Cutler said “not everybody’s bought in’’ to the new program just yet.

‘‘I think Coach Trestman has a different way of going at things and it might be harder for some of the older players, just because they’ve been around so long, and I can see where [Cutler’s] coming from,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘The way I look at it is that he’s kind of more like a college-mentality coach, which isn’t a bad thing. I like that. He’s a lot like [Boise State coach Chris Peterson] in a sense. So I’m used to the things, so I like it fine. But I can see where [Cutler’s] coming from.’’

As McClellin said, it’s the veterans — many of whom might still be loyal to Smith — who are experiencing difficulties, whether they’re saying it or not. With numerous offensive players declaring their love for Trestman’s offensive philosophies, it has been assumed that members of the defense are having the most issues. This might not be a matter of players not buying in, but rather still adapting to change.

‘‘I think everybody’s at their own pace,’’ cornerback Tim Jennings said. ‘‘We all buy in to what Coach Trestman’s trying to do. As a defense and the guys that we have, we enjoy what we do and make sure we have fun doing it.’’

To veteran linebacker James Anderson, it’s clear Trestman ‘‘came in with a plan’’ and he ‘‘goes about it respectfully.’’ Trestman has done things such as reorganizing the locker room to encourage team-building.

‘‘[He’s] getting us back into more of a team leadership — team ball,’’ Hester said. ‘‘From the conditioning, it kind of felt like a college atmosphere, but at the same time we are grown men. We know what’s at stake. We know this year is a big year for us. We haven’t been in the playoffs in awhile. We have to come out of this camp and really fight hard to make sure we’re ready for the season.’’



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