Lake Forest, Ill.– Week of training camp is officially in the books for the Chicago Bears. With practices on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, there was nonstop action at Halas Hall, giving everyone a front-row seat to how the new regime handles everything.
With that said, let’s recap the first week of Bears training camp with some key takeaways.
1) Justin Fields has already taken a step forward.
What the second-year quarterback does in 2022 will be under the microscope. By Fields himself, the front office and coaching staff, fans, and the local/national media. But there is no denying one observation through the first four practices when it comes to Fields: He’s in control of the Bears offense, a positive itself.
The Bears know that Fields has a long way to go in terms of developing into a franchise quarterback but he’s continued to make plays throughout training camp that show he could be ready to take the next step sooner rather than later.
2) The Bears rookie class-namely three players-has impressed.
Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and Velus Jones Jr. The Bears first three picks in the 2022 NFL Draft have proven themselves in training camp so far. All three practice with an unparalleled level of confidence while making highlight-worthy plays each day.
For Gordon and Brisker, it’s interceptions that spark hope for the future. For Jones, it’s playing three different positions (Z/F/X wide receiver) and blowing past defensive backs. When the Bears season opens on September 11th, don’t be surprised to see all three players in the starting lineup, a sign that the Bears are building something worth talking about.
3) Khalil Herbert believes the Bears running game is brewing up something special.
“Just how it’s designed, how coach put everything together,” Herbert said. “I’m excited to see how we’re able to run the ball.”
Paired up with fourth-year running back David Montgomery, Herbert will likely see an increase in touches with the Bears offense emphasizing running the football more. Players are buying into the Bears scheme and with the running game being one of the most complete positional groups on the roster, Chicago’s running game could develop into one of the best in the NFL.
4) Equanimeous St.Brown is adjusting to his new team well.
The Bears signed St.Brown to a one-year deal in free agency, reuniting him with Luke Getsy, the Bears new offensive coordinator. For a player who’s looking to get his career back on track, St.Brown finished out the first week of training camp strong, providing some hope that he could easily become a big part of the Bears offense in 2022.
“He brought a lot of the offense over from Green Bay,” St.Brown said. “So I’m pretty comfortable with the offense and then he’s putting his own wrinkles into it, making it unique in his way. Football, you only play so many years. You got to make the most of your time while you’re in the NFL.”
With a relatively unproven wide receiver room outside of Darnell Mooney, St.Brown has an opportunity ahead of him to secure his NFL future.
5) Linebacker Nicholas Morrow has quickly developed into a leader on defense.
Without Roquan Smith, it’s the next man up mentality for the Bears on defense. After missing the 2021 season due to an injury, Morrow is looking to get his NFL career back on track and views the Bears as being the ideal opportunity.
“I think the most effective way to lead is to lead by example,” Morrow said. “When guys see it on tape, they have a vision. Talking about the vision again, so when the vision is in front of you, you see it on tape.”
With a number of younger players on the roster, Morrow has stepped up in a manner that could pay dividends in 2022, allowing the Bears to lock him in as their long-term middle linebacker of the future.
6) Defensive coordinator Alan Williams thinks highly of Robert Quinn.
The most experienced player on the Bears roster, Quinn enters his 12th NFL season and continues to be a pro’s pro. Despite being the subject of trade rumors this offseason, Quinn reported to Halas Hall on time and ready to go.
“I’d like to start off with as a person, just unbelievable, cares about his teammates, as a player, still just watching tape, he is as advertised,” Williams said. “Just getting to know him right now and when you see him go through individual drills, boy is he bendy. He can get on a edge, we were talking the other day and I was staring at his hands, he’s a big man, and then he’s a professional, he studies his playbook, he comes in prepared. And then as a leader, guys gravitate towards him. He’s quiet by nature but the guys looked to him to lead the way.”
As the Bears defense enters a period of transition, Quinn, who’s played in a 4-3 defense before will be tasked with helping a number of younger players excel quickly. As Quinn enters year three of a five-year deal signed in 2020, the veteran pass rusher is ready to put forth another successful season, just one season after he set the Bears single-season franchise sack record.
7) Jaquan Brisker is entering 2022 with a chip on his shoulder.
“I’m definitely trying to be the takeaway king,” Brisker said. “I just want to be here super bad, I love football. Once I came in the building, it was on from there.”
After slipping out of the first round, Brisker has been proactive this offseason, continuing to get better by spending time around veteran safety Eddie Jackson. This led to Brisker picking off a pass in training camp during Friday’s practice. After speaking with the media on Friday, it was clear that Brisker is focused and locked in, knowing how crucial his rookie season is.
8) A new look Bears secondary is something to be excited about.
If you haven’t heard by now, Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker have been lighting it up at training camp. Combine this with what could be a bounceback year for Safety Eddie Jackson, along with cornerback Jaylon Johnson taking another step forward and the Bears could have one of the most complete secondaries in the NFL.
9) Fluid offensive line combinations are a positive for the Bears.
The Bears have used a number of OL combinations throughout the first four days of training camp, trotting out multiple rookies at one time. While there is no set timetable for Lucas Patrick or Teven Jenkins to return, the Bears constantly shuffling the offensive line means the team is getting a chance to look at depth that could be valuable in 2022 and in the near future. Key names to watch include Braxton Jones, Doug Kramer, Zachary Thomas, and Sam Mustipher, all of whom received significant reps in practice.
10) It’s bigger than X’s and O’s for head coach Matt Eberflus.
Eberflus coaching staff is trying to hone in on key values such as accountability and discipline, ensuring that both become a key part of the Bears moving forward. On Friday, the first-year head coach discussed being able to respond, to a variety of situations.
“How do we respond?” said Eberflus. “Responding is responding to adversity and success.”
While fans seemed to be focused on the intricate details of the game, for Eberflus and the Bears, it’s all about remaining level-headed and continuing to take everything one day at time, not getting too complacent in the process.