As the Bears came off the practice field Wednesday afternoon, the players made a beeline for the locker room as reporters scurried toward the players. "Tim!" one veteran reporter yelled at Tim Jennings as he jogged to Halas Hall. "One question!"
"Nope!" Jennings said with a grin as he spread his arms out like an airplane. "Got a flight to catch."
Why the rush? The bye week, of course! After five weeks of football, the Bears are off until their Oct. 22 game against Detroit. Fortunately, Julius Peppers was willing to give RedEye a veteran's perspective on the bye week.
Explain the difference between how you handle the bye week earlier in your career and how you handle it now.
Julius Peppers: I handle it the same. Just get as much rest as possible. That's what it's for. Rest and recovery. Get somewhere where you can relax, get away from it a little bit, and rest your body.
Do you give any advice to the rookies?
JP: Just stay out of trouble. [Laughs.] Stay out of trouble, get your rest, and be ready to work when we come back on Monday.
At what point did you feel like "Now I understand and I can be the one who is giving the advice"?
JP: [Pauses, smiles.] Oh, a while ago. Probably around my fourth or fifth year I started putting things together. It's not vacation time. Nobody's going—well, I don't know where everybody's going, but it's not a time to go to Cancun or to the Bahamas or anywhere like that. [Laughs.] You want to relax, but you also don't want to get away from it and lose focus completely.
Are there football things that you do?
JP: You can watch a little tape. We have iPads with the video on it. There's games on this weekend. We'll watch the games. Stay into it. Just sit back and watch the games.
So yes, the 32-year-old Peppers knows how to use the bye week. But what about his defensive line apprentice, 23-year-old Shea McClellin?
So Shea, how will you be spending the bye week?
Shea McClellin: Just relaxing. Spending it with family and friends. Gonna come back Sunday night and get ready to go.
What are your concerns about ways in which you could slip?
SM: Probably just not working out. Relaxing too much, I guess you could say. You gotta weigh what you're doing and get a couple workouts in.
What's most important to keep doing?
SM: Just like I said, get a solid workout. Eat right.
Getting any advice from veterans on how to handle it?
SM: No, no, I think it's pretty self-explanatory. [Smiles.]
Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.
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