How Pringle worked to build chemistry with Fields while injured

LAKE FOREST – Arriving at training camp, the Bears were counting on Byron Pringle to grab the No. 2 receiver spot in front of Darnell Mooney and become a reliable target for quarterback Justin Fields.

But Pringle injured his quadriceps during an individual practice at training camp and missed the better part of a month, which included all three preseason games.

Pringle and Fields lost significant time on the grass needed to build a rapport to rely on the quarterback of the second year. But the veteran wide receiver did everything in his power to make sure he kept up with the escalation of the Bears’ offense while being sidelined.

“Ever since I was out, I was just trying to listen to the coaching points, the communication on the field, like they’re passing it on to other people,” Pringle said on Monday. “Just knowing I’m not trying to be a step back when I get back on the field, so I’m paying attention in the meeting room and listening to everything Coach Gates is coaching and pointing out. That’s what Justin is telling friends.”

Pringle returned to practice on Monday in a limited capacity with fellow wide receiver Welles Jones Jr. and center Lucas Patrick.

Despite missing the close of last month, the 28-year-old sees the advantage of his time off the field.

“It was a really big help, getting me out,” Pringle said. “I was able to study more before I got out on the field. As far as I don’t know what to do, I think I’m good.”

While he’s studying more while he’s down, Pringle knows that he and Fields will have to work overtime to make sure their time is dialed in the following Sunday.

“We have to get it after practice,” Pringle said. “Even, like some routes you can convert. Some routes you can’t. Some, I’m in the window, like, in the field, and some he wants me to keep walking. We just Keep talking about it, keep communicating about it.”

When Pringle went down, he was battling with Equinemius St. Brown, Fresh Sharpe, Dante Pettis and Jones to finish first in the pecking order behind Mooney.

Sharpe is now out for the year with a rib injury, while Jones has missed almost two weeks.

This left the Bears with only three healthy receivers who caught an NFL pass last season. Those three receivers — Mooney, St. Brown, and Pettis — are the Bears’ top three receivers when they take the field on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Pringle is not sure whether he will be able to play on Sunday or his return will have to wait until Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. This decision will be taken by the coaching staff on the basis of Wednesday and Thursday’s practice.

But Pringle believes he will be able to make an impact on Sunday if the staff gives him the go-ahead.

He also believes this Bears team has what it takes to go toe to toe with the best of the NFL.

“We’ve got the patience, the appetite, the refinement,” Pringle said. “It’s the greatest thing about having a championship or playoff team, eliminating plays.”

When 49 soldiers come to Soldier Field on Sunday, patience, hunger and fighting will be the essence.

Fields would need every weapon at his disposal to counter a sharp, aggressive defense led by Nick Bossa and Fred Warner. Pringle’s speed is the kind of weapon that can turn a game into a game.

If he is unable to go into the season-opener on Sunday it is something the Bears will miss dearly.

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