Updated: August 26, 2014 6:41AM
BOURBONNAIS — On Friday, the first day of practice at Bears training camp, it could be family members who occupy the sidelines at Olivet Nazarene University. The next day, it could be friends from Mount Greenwood and Mount Carmel. Next week, it could be former teammates and coaches from NIU.
Running back Jordan Lynch is just that popular.
“I’m sure my dad will be down here every day,” Lynch said. “It’s only about 40 minutes away.”
Lynch already knows his way around campus, having been a fan in attendance a handful of times. But the drive down Interstate-57 felt different this year.
“Now I’m coming here to play and not just be a spectator,” he said. “We had a month off, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I still get kind of star-struck when I see the top players on our team.”
Lynch’s transformation from Mount Carmel option quarterback to Heisman Trophy finalist at NIU to capable NFL running back will be magnified during training camp. He knows he’s embroiled in a deep competition at backup running back and with other special-teamers.
But Lynch’s performances during organized team activities and two minicamps have validated the Bears’ decision to sign him as a rookie free agent. The Bears’ brass sees more good things ahead.
“From my perspective, everything I saw visually is that he worked his tail off,” general manager Phil Emery said. “The guy has good hands, he has good feet, he has good run skills, so there’s no reason for him not to be a running back.”
Coach Marc Trestman agreed, nodding and smiling with every word about Lynch uttered by Emery. Lynch has to improve at pass protection, but Emery made sure to mention that every college running back has to nowadays.
“That’s not the primary thing they do,” Emery said.
To improve his chances, Lynch changed his diet, lowering his caloric intake from the high 4,000s to around 2,500. He dropped from 225 pounds to 205.
“I feel stronger and faster,” Lynch said.
And he feels the love from Chicago.
“I know Chicago has my back,” Lynch said. “But, once again, I have to go out there and do the work.”