Bears Insider

Bears minicamp observations: Justin Fields strikes deep, but defense wins day

While the offense had the play of the day, the Bears' defense got the W in the two-minute drill

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jaylon Johnson had Dante Pettis blanketed up the right sideline Tuesday at Halas Hall. The fourth-year corner locked the receiver up stride for stride to open the Bears' mandatory minicamp.

It didn't matter.

Quarterback Justin Fields dropped back and ripped a perfect deep ball that landed in the only place Pettis could catch it: a tiny window over the receiver's right shoulder. The ball hit Pettis' hands with pinpoint accuracy, and the receiver got both feet in bounds for a long completion down inside the 10-yard line.

That was one of many deep shots the Bears' offense took Tuesday while practicing inside the Walter Payton Center. Pettis, DJ Moore, Tyler Scott, and Velus Jones Jr. all got deep targets, with Chase Claypool (minor injury management) and Darnell Mooney (ankle rehab) not participating.

The deep shots worked to varying degrees. '

"You've gotta back them off you," head coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday of the heavy work on the deep pass. "When teams line up in single-high or they line up in single coverages, we're going to take our shots. I think our guys are doing a really good job with that. That's really been the theme all offseason. Certainly, take what they give you, but we're certainly going to take shots with the matchups we like."

The pristine deep hookup between Fields and Pettis was the unquestioned "Play of the Day," but the defense won when it mattered most.

The Bears finished the day with a two-minute drill that had the offense start at their own 20-yard line with 1:40 seconds left.

The first-string offense faced the second-string defense, and the film session won't be pretty.

On first-and-10, rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter got quick penetration against Teven Jenkins to notch a minicamp sack for a loss of 11. Fields hit Khalil Herbert out of the backfield for 5 yards on second down before finding Tyler Scott at the sticks for a gain of 11. Terrell Lewis beat Darnell Wright on the play, but Fields got the pass off (potentially coach assisted) to move the sticks, but only 21.9 seconds remained.

On first-and-10, both Dexter and Andrew Billings busted into the backfield for another sack, leaving the Bears just a Hail Mary chance. On second down, Fields was immediately pressured by Dominique Robinson, who beat Braxton Jones, and his deep shot fell incomplete.

The Bears' second-string offense also couldn't find success as the first-string defense quickly shut the door with good plays by Johnson and T.J. Edwards.

Here are more notes from Day 1 of mandatory minicamp:

-- The Bears have everyone in the building for mandatory minicamp.

Wide receiver Chase Claypool, linebacker Jack Sanborn, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Chase Allen, cornerback Terell Smith, and defensive lineman Jayln Holmes did not participate Tuesday.

Eberflus said Claypool is dealing with multiple things.

"Just a few minor things that he's working with," Eberflus said of Claypool. "What's great about this time of year is we have the luxury of him working with the trainers. He's not on a time crunch, and we can get him fully healthy working into the summer because we have 40 days when we break from here to get ready for that report to training camp. So, that's what we're trying to do."

-- The Bears' passing game had moments in 7-on-7 work. By my unofficial count, Fields went 9-for-13 passing, including the aforementioned deep shot to Pettis and another long connection to Pettis in which Fields threaded a ball in between safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Tyrique Stevenson on a deep post.

Fields also had some not-so-good moments. The third-year quarterback threw a quick out that linebacker Noah Sewell should have intercepted. The ball hit Sewell in the hands, but the rookie dropped the takeaway.

Fields was also picked off by Kyler Gordon when Cole Kmet slipped on a crossing route and fell down. Gordon nabbed the interception but quickly fumbled the ball after getting up to start the return.

-- Edwards and safety Eddie Jackson both notched pass breaks ups in 7-on-7.

-- The Bears' defense notched a coverage sack in 7-on-7, which sent the entire defensive sideline into a frenzy as Johnson, Stevenson, Gordon, Jackson, Brisker, Edwards, and Tremaine Edmunds locked up the first-team offense.

-- Velus Jones Jr. had a nice win against Jaylon Johnson in 7-on-7. The second-year receiver broke in and quickly snapped back outside for a quick completion from Fields. Jones also flashed his speed on a go route but Walker overthrew him.

-- Fields and Kmet did link up on a deep cross to the left side. Fields dropped it in a bucket, with Edmunds and Jackson both closing quickly.

-- Rookie receiver Tyler Scott showed off his speed with the second-team offense when he torched cornerback Jaylon Jones on a go-route and hauled in the long pass from P.J. Walker.

-- Eberflus said Cody Whitehair remains the starting center and that Lucas Patrick is just getting some occasional work with the first-team offense as the backup.

-- The Bears will return to Halas Hall on Wednesday for Day 2 of minicamp.

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