Byron Pringle knows he didn’t make the right kind of headlines in his first few months as a Chicago Bears wide receiver.
He was arrested in Florida in April for reckless driving and driving, while his license was suspended after an officer suspected him of donuting on the street with a child and another passenger in the car.
But if Bears fans will allow him to reinvent himself, that’s what he wants to tell them.
“I’m just a hard worker,” he said. “I love sports. Things keep happening.”
Pringle didn’t elaborate much on the incident in his first remarks to the media after Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp practice at Halas Hall, saying he had “no thoughts on it.” According to Pasco County records, he pleaded not guilty to the charges, asked for trial by jury and set a pre-trial court date for July 5.
He said he spoke to general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberfluss before the news came to the media and “everything in the house went haywire.”
Poles told the media only days after the arrest that this resonated. Poles, who had known Pringle from his four years in Kansas City, said the bears were in “a good place” with Pringle and that the incident was “not a reflection of who he is.”
Pringle tweeted after his media availability: “I’m here just to play football (Joker) not to answer questions.”
So the focus since the arrest has been on how Pringle could grab positive headlines with a bear offense that required some wide receivers to step in with Darnell Mooney.
Aberfluss has been pleased with what he has seen from Pringle over the past several weeks of practice.
“He does a really good job and is an explosive athlete, and he’s strong,” Eberfluss said. He said, “He has strong hands to hold it in traffic and he does a really good job at yards after the catch. He can break a few tackles, you can feel his strength and you can tap him. But we can see. We like where it is.”
Pringle, who has been signed to a $4 million one-year contract this season, has a huge opportunity to increase his production in 2021 from a career-best 42 catches for 568 yards and five touchdowns. He was fifth and third wide in the catch. Receiver – Powered by quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the offense of the Mighty Chiefs.
Now, the 28-year-old former undrafted free agent from Kansas State, part of a collection of Bears receivers after the Poles made mostly minor offseason additions to the position, has a lot to prove.
Mooney is the only Bears wide receiver on the roster with a better season production-wise than Pringle in 2021. Fresh Sharpe had 41 catches for 522 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2016. The Poles also drafted rookie Welles Jones Jr. Third round last month.
So with David Montgomery and Tight and Cole Kemmett joining the passing game, there’s room for a newcomer to exit, as well. Equinemius St. Brown and Dante Pettis are among other players looking for that shot.
Pringle dismissed questions about personal goals and said instead that he was trying to execute, win and have fun at a high level, something Mahomes tried to make sure his teammates were always doing. Huh. And Pringle believes he can do it behind quarterback Justin Fields and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, despite years of offensive struggle in Chicago.
“Wherever I go, I always have a smile on my face, so I keep that positive energy,” Pringle said. “Coming here, we are not worried about the past. We are trying to move forward. We’re trying to go up. We are not looking back at what happened in the past, and as a unit, we are trying to be better, holding each other accountable. ,
Head coach Andy Reid said at an NFL owners meeting a few months ago that Pringle would “play his heart out” and “will continue to grow because he works so hard.”
So Pringle thinks it can make better news in the months to come.
“I never try to stay on one level,” Pringle said. “I keep trying to move on. … I don’t try to be the same player, same friend. I try to learn something every day.”