LAKE FOREST – Wide receiver Byron Pringle might not have made the best first impression with Bears fans.
A month after signing with the team as a free agent, Pringle was arrested on April 23 in Wesley Chapel, Florida, for allegedly doing donuts on a public road with a child in his car. The Florida Highway Patrol arrest report indicated that Pringle initially ignored a request from police to exit the vehicle “then became verbally confrontational.”
Pringle was charged with reckless driving and driving on a suspended license. Court records indicate that Pringle pleaded not guilty on May 19 and requested a trial by jury. His next court date is July 5 in Pasco County, Florida.
Pringle spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time since his arrest. The media session came after the Bears wrapped up football practice during veteran minicamp at Halas Hall. Pringle declined to comment on his April arrest or the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
“I had talked to coach, talked with [general manager Ryan Poles] before it hit the media and everything’s squared away in-house,” Pringle said.
Asked if a child was in the car, Pringle said, “Whatever you read in the media is all good, whatever it say.”
The police report noted that there was “a male juvenile child in the left rear seat.” Poles did address the issue days after Pringle’s arrest.
“It’s not a reflection of who he is at all,” Poles said in April. “You don’t want your guys in the news at all. At that point, it’s disappointing. But we had good conversations about it.”
On Wednesday, Pringle acknowledged that his arrest was not a great first impression with Bears fans. Pringle said he wants Bears fans to know that he’s a hard-worker.
“I love the game,” Pringle said. “You know. Things happen.”
Shortly after his media session, Pringle took to Twitter and wrote, “I’m just here to play football not answer [clown emoji] questions.”
On the football field, Pringle thinks the new Bears offense is going to put him in positions to make an impact. Already this spring, he is seeing opportunities to catch the ball in one-on-one matchups and in space.
“I came here to play at a high level, execute and win,” Pringle said. “Whatever it takes, be it the blocking, kick return, gunner, wherever they need me at. I’m just trying to win.”
The Bears went into the offseason with what appeared to be quite a void at the wide receiver position. Poles, for better or worse, resisted the urge to spend big on a free agent receiver. Darnell Mooney is the only significant returning receiver. Everyone else, notably Allen Robinson, is gone.
Pringle’s signing was the highest-profile move that Poles made at the receiver position. Pringle, 28, signed a one-year, $4 million contract in March. Like Poles, he comes to Chicago from Kansas City, where he was the fourth-leading receiver last year.
Pringle caught 42 passes for 568 yards and five touchdowns in 2021. In Chicago, he figures to be the clear No. 2 option at receiver. That’s a step up for a receiver who was stuck behind Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman last year.
Pringle noted that he “didn’t come here for individual goals.”
“I don’t never try to be at the same level I was yesterday, you know?” he said. “And I just keep going. I don’t try to be the same player, the same dude. I try to learn something every day.”
Pringle, a Florida native, originally went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2018. Last season was his first chance to see significant playing time in Kansas City’s offense.
“I like him with the run after catch,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “He does a really good job and is an explosive athlete and I think he’s strong. He’s got a strong set of hands to catch it in traffic.”
Taking attendance: Bears left guard Cody Whitehair had an excused absence from practice Wednesday, according to Eberflus. The coach noted that it was “a good reason.”
Pass rusher Robert Quinn again skipped the mandatory practice. Eberflus said Tuesday that Quinn is not excused.
Cornerback Kyler Gordon and pass rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad were present but not participating. Eberflus declined to comment on their statuses.
Marinelli returns: Eberflus’ good friend Rod Marinelli addressed the Bears prior to practice Wednesday. The former Bears defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith worked with Eberflus when both were with the Dallas Cowboys several years ago. Marinelli most recently coached the Las Vegas Raiders defensive line, but is not currently with an NFL team.
“The message from him was really about life skills,” Eberflus said. “About how to maximize yourself both physically and mentally and how to go about that. It was very entertaining and we certainly appreciate Coach Rod coming in here. One of my mentors, one of my really good friends.”