Lake Forest, Ill.– The Chicago Bears officially reported to training camp on Tuesday, the franchise’s first under head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles. With a lot of action going on at Halas Hall, it’s time to recap some of the key takeaways from Halas Hall on Tuesday as training camp gets underway.
1) The Bears are excited about Safety Jaquan Brisker.
Late on Monday night, the Bears agreed to terms to rookie safety Jaquan Brisker, signing the 48th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to a four-year deal. With Brisker now in the fold, the Bears have wrapped up signing their rookie class and will enter 2022 with high expectations for the entire group.
Of the Bears 11 rookies, Brisker might be the one who has ends up having an instant impact in his rookie season. He’s versatile, rangy, and athletic, often playing physical in order to set the tone and impose his will on running backs and tight ends.
2) Ryan Poles patient approach paid off.
All offseason, questions persisted about the Bears offensive line, specifically right guard. In an effort to combat these questions, Poles signed veterans Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff, giving the entire unit some much-needed stability. Both veterans may not be the future of the position but they do provide the team with some time to develop younger players like Larry Borom, Teven Jenkins, Braxton Jones, Ja’Tyre Carter, Doug Kramer, and Zachary Thomas.
Had the regular season started today, Schofield and Reiff would’ve started alongside Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick, giving the Bears the most experienced offensive line group the franchise has seen since the Roberto Garza-Olin Kreutz days.
3) A confident Justin Fields enters the fold in 2022.
Everything slows down for players as they enter year two and the same can be said about second-year quarterback Justin Fields, who showed up to Halas Hall appearing more confident than ever. Fields confidence represents a unique personality trait the Bears haven’t seen before from a young quarterback.
“Just how I feel, my confidence going in it, just our team as a whole, we feel closer this year in my opinion,” Fields said. “Everybody on the team’s excited, we’re trying to accomplish one goal and we’re just ready to get to work.”
A year ago at this time, Fields was practicing with the second and third-string roster in training camp. Nearly 365 days later, he’s come a long way and is ready to be the undisputed leader of the franchise, hoping to lead the team to unprecedented success.
4) The Bears believe something is brewing with wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
When the Bears traded a 2024 seventh-round pick for wide receiver N’Keal Harry, general manager Ryan Poles was rolling the dice on another low-risk, high-reward player, a common theme for the Bears this offseason. A former first-round pick, Harry has yet to live up to expectations but a change of scenary with a team that’s currently forming a new identity.
“He was of course excited to be here,” said Fields. “I’m excited of what he can do, also what he did at Arizona State in college, his frame, what he can do as a playmaker, I’m very excited to see what he can do on the field.”
Upon trading for Harry, the Bears fanbase instantly became intrigued with Harry, a player who could instantly revive his career in Chicago.
5) Accountability will be prevalent at Halas Hall in 2022.
With a new regime comes a new set of ideologies and football philosophies. Third-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson wasn’t shy on Tuesday afternoon when discussing how the new regime is holding players accountable.
“The way they hold is accountable is crazy, compared to what we’re used to,” Johnson said.
For a team that limped to the finish line each of the last two seasons, Johnson enters year three knowing that the Bears offseason was defined by change and the new coaching staff instilled key values inside a locker room that needed a massive culture change.
6) The Bears will get something with Roquan Smith done eventually.
General Manager Ryan Poles was mum when asked about star linebacker Roquan Smith. As Smith heads into his fifth NFL season, he was present at Halas Hall but will not participate in any practices. The Bears and Smith are at an impasse, with Smith holding out in hopes of a new deal.
Over the last four seasons, Smith has proven that he’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL. 2021 saw Smith start all 17 games, totaling 163 tackles. The good news for the Bears is that both parties have committed to getting a deal done at some point considering Smith is set to hit free agency in 2023.
7) A new look secondary will set the tone for the defense.
The Bears defense added and subtracted a number of new players this offseason. With an overhaul of the secondary now complete, names like Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Jaylon Johnson, and Eddie Jackson will feed off each other, setting the tone for the rest of the defense.
Overhauling the secondary means the Bears are building the defense from back to front, putting an emphasis on being able to stop team’s through the air first.
8) Lucas Patrick’s confidence in Justin Fields is noticeable.
“Physically waht he can do, that’s been extremely impressive and something I was excited when I was coming in,” Patrick said.
As the veteran center gets ready for his first season in Chicago, he’s confident that the second-year quarterback will make an adequate number of strides to warrant developing into a franchise quarterback.
9) With Robert Quinn in the building, what’s next for the pass rusher?
A year after setting the Bears franchise record for sacks, rumors swirled this offseason that the Bears were looking to move Quinn in hopes of acquiring some draft capital.
“I would hope that he wants to be here,” Poles said. “I think it’s important to have guys that are experienced, have had success in this league, and know how to play and practice, so that’s what he brings.”
The Bears are focused on building for beyond 2022 but Poles clearly values what Quinn brings to the table. While Quinn may not be a part of the foreseeable future, he still provides a lot of value for what is one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
10) The Bears new regime is taking on varied approach to everything.
Since getting hired back in January, Eberflus has continued to preach a number of key values, including accountability and not putting a ceiling on any player. Different is good sometimes and the Bears need a different approach as they get ready to prepare for the 2022 season.
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