The Chicago Bears put their foot on the gas pedal on Friday morning during their latest training camp practice at Halas Hall and it showed. After a day off, head coach Matt Eberflus and the Bears re-took the field for what has been described by multiple players as their hardest practice yet.
Practices have been a mixed bag up to this point, with the offense struggling at times to find their footing and the defense working to establish a mentality of creating turnovers. As practice got underway, however, players on both sides of the ball began to stand out by making plays. Here’s a list of players who we believe had a great practice on Friday morning.
1. RB Trestan Ebner
Oct 30, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears running back Trestan Ebner (1) looks for more yards against the Texas Longhorns in the second half of an NCAA football game at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports
When the Bears moved into team drills on Friday, rookie running back Trestan Ebner made his presence known almost immediately. Ebner found a lot of running room on one of his first carries, making a few nifty moves to find space in the open field for what would have been a big gain. His speed and quickness were on full display and one has to be excited about how the Bears might use him both on offense and special teams.
Ebner is still battling for the third spot on the running back depth chart but he’s making his case loud and clear.
2. CB Tavon Young
Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (36) reacts after a turnover in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
A few of the Bears cornerbacks were out due to injury on Friday, paving the way for players like Tavon Young to shine. Rookie Kyler Gordon, who had been recently working as the starting nickel corner, was in street clothes, with Young taking his place. The former Baltimore Raven was effective both in the run game and in passing situations going up against Darnell Mooney. First, Young beat Mooney on a run drill, getting the best of him and pushing him into the ground. Then, he tipped a ball targeted towards Mooney in the redzone, leading to an incompletion.
We’ll see how long the Bears keep Gordon at the nickel spot but Young made a pretty good case for the position on Friday.
3. OT Braxton Jones
Jul 30, 2022; Lake Forest Illinois, US; Chicago Bears offensive lineman Braxton Jones (70) during training camp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
It seems with every practice, rookie tackle Braxton Jones gets better and better. Jones played every single snap at left tackle for the first-team offense on Friday, taking another step in solidifying his position as the starter when week one rolls around. Jones has held his own so far, consistently doing enough to give Fields time to find his target. He’s gone up against the starting defensive line and has stood up to the challenge. The real test comes during the preseason games but there’s a lot to like about Jones at this stage of camp.
4. S Jaquan Brisker
Jun 8, 2022; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive back Jaquan Brisker (9) warms up during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Eberflus and the new coaching staff have been preaching turnovers since they were hired and we’re seeing that mantra play out in real time, particularly with rookie safety Jaquan Brisker. The team’s second-round pick out of Penn State is earning a reputation of a ballhawk, whether it’s making an interception or breaking up a pass. That continued on Friday where he jarred a ball loose from tight end Cole Kmet to force an incompletion towards the end of practice. He doesn’t give up on a play and that mentality is going to serve him well when the real games begin. He continues to show that he’s the real deal.
5. QB Justin Fields
LAKE FOREST, Illinois – AUGUST 02: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears looks on during training camp at the PNC Center at Halas Hall on August 02, 2022 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
It wasn’t a perfect practice for Fields, but we saw him do a lot of different things on Friday that bode well for the regular season. Fields was able to work through his progressions a bit quicker than in previous days, moving off one receiver to another while keeping his head downfield. He had some nice deep throws in team drills towards the middle of the field, including passes to Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown. Fields also was able to work on his scrambling, whether they were designed or when plays broke down.
Fields did struggle a bit down in the redzone, locking onto Mooney and Kmet too often, but it’s another step in the right direction for the second-year quarterback as he adjusts to a new offense.
6. WR Chris Finke
Jul 28, 2021; st. Joseph, MO, United States; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Finke (9) catches a pass during training camp at Missouri Western State University. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
How about highlighting one of the fringe players on the roster? Wide receiver Chris Finke is in a battle for a roster spot but was one of the bright spots running with the No. 2 and No. 3 offenses. Finke caught a deep ball from quarterback Nathan Peterman in stride and showed plenty of quickness throughout practice. He even stayed behind when practice ended to get some reps in with Peterman.
Finke is battling it out with players such as Dazz Newsome, Dante Pettis, Isaiah Coulter, and more to make the final roster. He’s someone that could have a big game with Peterman when preseason begins.