Top takeaways from fifth practice

Top takeaways from fifth practice

The Chicago Bears returned to the practice field at Halas Hall for their fifth practice of training camp, which is their practice before the pads come on Tuesday.

It was a closed practice on Monday, but there were plenty of updates from the media in attendance. The defense won the day with dominant play from the defensive line and defensive backs. And there’s still work to be done on offense.

There was plenty to digest from practice and press conferences with head coach Matt Eberflus, wide receiver Byron Pringle, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, tight end Ryan Griffin and offensive lineman Sam Mustipher.

Following Monday’s practice, here’s a look at what we learned from the fifth day of Bears training camp:

1 The pads are coming on Tuesday

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears conducted their fifth training camp practice on Monday. All five of those have been non-padded, so it’s been hard to truly gauge what the offense and defense have right now. That all changes tomorrow.

Head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed that the Bears will put the pads on for the first time on Tuesday. Eberflus said the pads will allow for a better evaluation of each player.

“We covet the guys that are physical and play the style we wanna play,” he said.

The Bears will be in pads for two straight days — Tuesday and Wednesday, both open practices to fans. Eberflus said that the first couple of days in pads will be telling.

“Guys will either rise, or they’ll fall a little bit based on the pads,” he said.

2 The offense had a rough day, particularly during the two-minute drill

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears offense remains a work in progress, as evidenced by another rough outing on Monday.

According to Patrick Finley of the Sun-Times, “The offense looked discombobulated and bad.” Which isn’t unexpected at this point in training camp, but it’s still noteworthy as the team continues to grow in Luke Getsy’s offense.

There were struggles with procedural details and execution, and that was especially true during the two-minute period. Given Getsy voiced his frustration about lack of execution early last week, he probably wasn’t too thrilled about how the wrongly wrapped practice.

The good news is that the offense still has six weeks to fine-tune the details before their Week 1 opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

3 Still no Teven Jenkins sighting

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Not that this will come as any surprise, but offensive tackle Teven Jenkins was once again absent from practice on Monday. After participating in the first practice last Wednesday, Jenkins has now missed four straight.

Eberflus said that Jenkins is still working with trainers, but we still don’t know the extent of Jenkins’ expected injury.

According to David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 and NBC Sports Chicago, the injury isn’t what we should be worried about.

“From what I’m hearing, it’s not a serious injury,” Kaplan said Saturday. “What I’m hearing is that there’s a high level of disconnect between Teven and the new coaching staff, especially Chris Morgan, the new offensive line coach.”

For now, the Teven Jenkins saga continues.

4 Thomas Graham Jr. remains out with a hamstring injury

AP Photo/Stacy Bengs

Lost in the drama of the Teven Jenkins situation, another player who’s been sidelined since the beginning of camp is cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., who missed his fifth practice.

But we finally got some clarity from Eberflus, who explained that Graham is nursing a hamstring injury that is “going to take a little bit longer” as he aims to return to the practice field.

Graham is locked in a competition for the starting nickel cornerback spot with veteran Tavon Young. With Graham sidelined, we’ve seen a lot more of rookie Kyler Gordon splitting reps between the slot and outside, where he’s expected to start.

5 Justin Fields would’ve been sacked a lot

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Considering Justin Fields was among the league’s most-sacked quarterbacks last season — 36 times, to be precise — it’s not exactly reassuring to hear that Fields would’ve been sacked on several occasions during Monday’s practice.

According to The Athletic‘s Adam Jahns, “Al-Quadin Muhammad, Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson and Khyiris Tonga all would’ve had sacks or shared them on Justin Fields.”

Considering three of those four names are defensive ends, it speaks to the pressure coming off the edge — and reinforces uncertainty at the tackle position. But we’ll see what happens when the pads finally come on.

6 A strong showing from the defensive line, defensive backs

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

From the sound of it, the defense easily won the day on Monday. In particular, it was the defensive line and defensive backs who stood out in positive ways, which wasn’t so good for the offense.

The secondary is shaping up to be Chicago’s most-improved unit, which has been the theme of the summer so far. According to The Athletic‘s Kevin Fishbain, the defensive backs had a ton of pass breakups, including Cornerback Jaylon Johnson deflecting a pass in the air, which was hauled in for an interception by linebacker Joe Thomas.

As mentioned above, the defensive line had a big day for the Bears. Chicago “sacked” Fields several times, including a number by edge rushers Muhammad, Gipson and Robinson.

Just wait until the pads come on Tuesday.

7 Al-Quadin Muhammad was especially impactful during a two-minute drill

AP Photo/Daryl Webb

When a good number of your edge rushers are making plays, it’s hard to pinpoint just one who stood out among the rest. But in the case of Monday’s practice, it was easy to do with Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Muhammad spent the last four seasons with Eberflus in Indianapolis, so he has a good grasp of this defense — and it shows. Eberflus praised Muhammad for his big day, including bringing pressure on Fields and forcing some throws.

Muhammad was especially impactful during the two-minute drill at the end of practice, where he would’ve had multiple sacks on Fields.

But don’t take it from us. Let’s ask Muhammad himself. How many sacks did he have?

“A couple,” he told reporters, with a smile.

8 Dazz Newsome made some plays

AP Photo/David Banks

It wasn’t a banner day for the Bears offense by any means. But it was wide receiver Dazz Newsome bringing some highlights to Monday’s practice.

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s Alex Shaprio, Newsome “popped” in practice with some big catches during team drills, including some from Fields.

But the biggest highlight? “A reception that came off an Eddie Jackson tipped ball,” Shaprio wrote.

Outside of Darnell Mooney, the wide receiver room is up for grabs. If Newsome continues to flash, he could be in contention for one of those final roster spots at wideout.

9 Sam Mustipher back at center for now

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After starting all 17 games at center for the Bears last season, Sam Mustipher found himself at right guard for the entire offseason. That was the case when the team opened training camp.

Mustipher said the last time he played guard in a game was “probably high school.”

But with Lucas Patrick sidelined indefinitely with a broken right thumb, Mustipher has found his way back to center. While rookie Doug Kramer initially replaced Patrick — and has gotten to look with the starters — it certainly sounds like Mustipher is back at center, for now.

Mustipher said he loves the competition that he’s seeing along the offensive line.

“Competition can bring the best out of some people and the worst in some people,” he said. “For me, it’s always been the former.”

10 Michael Schofield saw more time at with first-team at right guard

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

With pads coming on Tuesday and veterans Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield finally nearing the end of their ramp-up period, things should become a lot more clear with the offensive line this week.

That was certainly the case with Schofield on Monday, as he saw increased reps with the starters at right guard after being limited in the first week.

With competition throughout the offensive line, Schofield appears locked in a battle with rookie Ja’Tyre Carter, who’s seen his share of reps at right guard with Schofield limited and Mustipher kicked inside to center.

Things should certainly heat up when the pads come on Tuesday and Wednesday.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.