Top takeaways from second padded practice

Top takeaways from second padded practice

The Chicago Bears conducted their second padded practice of training camp on Wednesday ahead of an off day.

Following a brutal showing by the offense on Tuesday, they showed improvement on the second day with pads. While the big names continued to flash, there were some under-the-radar players who had their moments during Wednesday’s practice.

There was plenty to take in from practice and press conferences with head coach Matt Eberflus, quarterback Justin Fields, defensive tackle Justin Jones and running back David Montgomery.

Following Wednesday’s practice, here’s a look at what we learned from the second padded practice of Bears training camp:

1 The offense was much better on Wednesday

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears offense looked much better with their second day in pads. Granted, it was a pretty low bar to clear following a downright brutal showing on Tuesday.

Quarterback Justin Fields had better timing with his targets and offense as a whole looked more in sync. There were fewer penalties, drops and mistakes than in the last few practices.

While the offense notably struggled during the two-minute drill on Tuesday, they rebounded with a better showing to close Wednesday’s practice. Fields led the offense to a field goal, including a huge completion to wide receiver N’Keal Harry on third-and-long to keep the drive going.

Overall, a much better day for the offense. But much like we shouldn’t overreact to a bad day, there’s still plenty of camp left, and the hope is the offense can stack solid practices.

2 Justin Fields reflects on first week of practices

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s been a whirlwind of a first week of training camp for the Bears offense. Fields reflected on the first six practices of the summer, specifically what areas he feels the offense needs to improve upon.

“Everything,” he said.

The offense has notably struggled with timing, penalties and overall execution through the first week. But Fields doesn’t believe there’s an area where the offense has reached its full potential.

“It’s tough because you want to know everything right now,” Fields said. “You want to be successful at everything right now, so it’s really just knowing that there are going to be mistakes, knowing that you’re going to have to learn and just make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes twice. I think that’s one big thing. There’s going to be failures but just learning from, you know, plays that you maybe messed up on, learning from that. And of course not doing it again.”

3 Breaking down the offensive line

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The offensive line remains a work in progress, and the shuffling continued during Wednesday’s padded practice. For the second straight practice, rookie Braxton Jones took all of the first-team reps at left tackle. Veteran Riley Reiff started at right tackle, where he once again was rotating with Larry Borom. This is the second straight day where Borom hasn’t started at right tackle and has had to share first-team reps.

Then in the interior, it was veteran Michael Schofield starting at right guard and rotating with rookie Ja’Tyre Carter. With Lucas Patrick sidelined indefinitely with a right hand injury, center has been a rotation between Sam Mustipher and rookie Doug Kramer. On Wednesday, it was Kramer getting the first look at center before rotating with Mustipher.

It’s too early to start pinpointing exactly what this offensive line could look like come Week 1. Although we have a good idea of ​​who the starters could be. It’s a matter of which position they’re in.

4 Teven Jenkins’ absence is injury-related

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive tackle Teven Jenkins missed his sixth straight practice on Wednesday, and it’s looking like there’s no end in sight. Head coach Matt Eberflus explained that Jenkins is still working through something with trainers and he’ll “be back when he’s back.”

Eberflus was asked if Jenkins’ absence from practice is 100% injury related.

“Yeah,” he said, which is the first official confirmation that Jenkins is nursing some kind of injury.

But it’s also hard to ignore the drama swirling around Jenkins in regards to his standing among the coaching staff.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bears have engaged in trade talks involving Jenkins. And ESPN’s Peggy Kusinksi confirmed that Chicago is actively seeking to trade Jenkins.

At this point, it’s fair to wonder if Jenkins is still on the roster come Week 1.

5 Equanimeous St. Brown is emerging as weapon for Justin Fields

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is an under-the-radar player who could wind up having a big impact in this Bears offense. While Fields’ connection with Darnell Mooney is well-known, he’s starting to really find a rapport with St. Brown, as evidenced during Wednesday’s practice, which might’ve been St. Brown’s best of the summer.

st. Brown had several impressive grabs on the day, including a 20-yard reception on a deep cross from Fields.

But he wasn’t perfect. st. Brown did haul in a pass from Fields, but he had it knocked out by linebacker Joe Thomas and returned for a score by cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

Fields is growing with St. Brown through these practices, and he pointed to St. Brown’s previous experience in this offense during his time with the Packers as for why he doesn’t tend to make mistakes.

“He’s definitely always in the right spot,” Fields said. “…He’s a weapon in this offense, for sure.”

6 But Fields to Darnell Mooney remains the best connection in camp

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Fields has noted that he’s been developing a nice rapport with his new receivers Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown, as well as tight end Cole Kmet this summer.

But make no mistake, Fields’ top weapon remains receiver Darnell Mooney, and it’s a connection that’s on display during every practice. That continued Tuesday when he found Mooney for a touchdown in the end zone during one-on-one drills.

They connected again during the final team period facing a fourth-and-1. Fields then rolled out to his left and found Mooney for the 5-yard touchdown, which Fields explained was the result of “timing and reps.”

Fields and Mooney an entire offseason deepening their connection, and it’s really showing through the first week of training camp. It’s easy to be excited about this duo heading into the 2022 season.

7 Justin Jones feels better suited in Bears defense

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Defensive tackle Justin Jones had himself an impressive end to Wednesday’s practice. During 11-on-11 drills, Jones would’ve had back-to-back sacks on Fields — had he been able to hit the quarterback. But that time will come for Jones and the defensive line.

Jones said he enjoys playing the 3-technique because it puts him in a better position to use his skillet. He pointed to his being able to go down in a better stance instead of a frog stance during his time with the Chargers.

Jones has bought into what’s being done in Chicago, including his new head coach Matt Eberflus. Jones said he spoke to a number of players that played for Matt Eberflus in the past, and they’ve all praised the new Bears head coach.

“I’ve been talking to guys that have been with Flus and they trust him,” Jones said. “They love him. He has 100% of my trust.”

8 Joe Thomas made a name for himself

AP/ Photo Jeffrey T. Barnes

There are a number of Bears veterans looking to make a name for themselves this summer, including linebacker Joe Thomas. And he certainly did that during the team’s second padded practice.

Thomas was among the standouts on Wednesday, where he made some strong plays against the starting offense. Whether it was covering running back David Montgomery and forcing an incompletion by Fields or forcing a turnover, Thomas was all over the field.

His biggest play came during 11-on-11 when Fields completed a pass to St. Brown. Thomas delivered a big hit and knocked the ball loose. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown.

Thomas is certainly someone who could benefit from a strong training camp, especially with roster spots up for grabs at linebacker.

9 David Moore is also someone to keep an eye on

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears wide receiver room is wide open behind Mooney, and there are plenty of veterans looking to prove themselves this summer. One of those is wideout David Moore, who had a standout day during Wednesday’s practice, where he had several impressive catches.

Moore showcased his playmaking ability hauling in a downfield catch from quarterback Trevor Siemian and running it into the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown.

Moore has also showcased his ability with starter Justin Fields. Last week, Moore hauled in a deep ball from Fields with Jayson Stanley in coverage during one-on-one drills.

Moore is one of those roster bubble players who is making a case for why he’s deserving of a roster spot. We’ll see what he can do the rest of the summer, including the preseason.

10 Bears starters will play in preseason opener vs. Chiefs

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Bears play their first preseason game in just 10 days, when they welcome the Chiefs to Soldier Field. While there are notable names around the league who aren’t playing in the preseason opener, Matt Eberflus said that his starters will in fact play next Saturday against Kansas City.

While the coaching staff hasn’t determined the number of reps they’ll take, Eberflus did say they “do want to get them a good amount.”

Among the starters taking the field is quarterback Justin Fields, who’s excited to see more reps and a different defense on Aug. 13.

“We practice against our defense every day,” he said. “Getting to go up against someone else will be good for us.”

11 Attendance

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

As mentioned above, Jenkins missed his sixth straight practice of training camp as he continues to work through an injury with trainers.

Meanwhile, linebacker Roquan Smith remains sidelined on the physically unable to perform (PFI) list. He was working with strength and conditioning coach Jim Arthur on an alternate field at the start of practice.

Center Lucas Patrick was spotted at practice with a cast on his right hand. Patrick suffered a broken right thumb that’s sidelined him indefinitely. But the hope is he’ll be back in time for the season opener.

Cornerback Duke Shelley was at practice but he wasn’t participating.

The Bears also welcomed back safety Michael Joseph and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, who were removed from the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list on Tuesday.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.