Caleb Williams

Bears rookie minicamp observations: Caleb Williams' precision, aura shine on Day 1

Day 1 of rookie minicamp went as expected for Caleb Williams

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The first day of the next era of Bears football arrived officially Friday when quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Rome Odunze took the field at Halas Hall on Day 1 of rookie minicamp.

Williams and Odunze have already started to build their chemistry off-campus, but the work that began Friday should hopefully accelerate the bond the Bears hope will be the backbone of a narrative-changing era.

"There's definitely things you can build within a me-and-him relationship," Odunze said of how valuable the two-day minicamp will be for him and Williams. "But when considering the offense as a whole is installation and bits and pieces you're learning together and communicating on together. As a wide receiver and a quarterback, of course, we can go out and build chemistry on timing. He can see where he wants to throw the ball depending on my speed of route and different things that I'm doing out there. When it comes to installation of the offense, that's why we're here today."

There's not much to glean from a May practice in shorts against a defense made up of undrafted rookies hoping to prove their worth and earn a training camp invite.

But Williams and Odunze looked the part Friday at Halas Hall. Williams was on time and accurate with almost every pass during the 7-on-7 portion of the day. That included eight completions to Odunze, who moved all around the field during Day 1 of rookie minicamp.

Even the reps that weren't flawless worked out in the new duo's favor.

At one point during the 7-on-7 period, Odunze got jammed getting out of his break, which forced Williams to roll out of the pocket and buy time before hitting him along the sideline for a gain of 18-20 yards. It was the type of off-script playmaking from Williams and ad-libbing from Odunze that the Bears hope to see on Sundays, even if it's not supposed to be featured in 7-on-7 work.

The two Bears rookies briefly chatted after the rep about the route and timing before returning to a solid day of consistently accurate work for Williams.

On the day, Williams had only three incompletions. The first was a drop by tight end Brendan Bates in the flat. The second was a ball thrown high and in front of Peter LeBlanc. The final incompletion was the product of a nice play by cornerback Leon Jones, who reacted quickly to break up a quick out to the left.

Williams broke down the huddle with a "Bear Down!" to end practice and went right to work throwing routes to undrafted rookie wide receiver John Jackson, who is at Halas for a tryout.

Undrafted rookie quarterback Austin Reed trained with Williams in the offseason and has seen firsthand the work the No. 1 overall pick puts into realizing his star potential.

"I think anyone with a brain knows that this dude is being tabbed as like a generational prospect and I don’t think he shies away from that," Reed said. "I think he understands the work that it’s gonna take to become that instead of just thinking he is that already. I kind of just respect the fact that he carries himself in that manner and that he really is like: I’m gonna go earn that tag, instead of just thinking that he is that."

Williams' arrival is expected to change things for a franchise that has spent four decades wandering through the quarterback desert.

It's an arrival that has already started to leave an imprint on the building.

"His personality starts [it]," Eberflus said of Williams' aura. "His light comes out from the inside. You can certainly feel that energy. He’s a 1-plus-1-equals-3 guy. He’s an enhancer. He’s a guy that brings out the best in people. You can certainly feel that in him within five minutes of meeting him."

The Caleb Williams era began in earnest Friday at Halas Hall. The Bears' rookie quarterback didn't do anything eye-opening. There were no highlight throws or "wow" moments. Why would there be?

There was just precision and accuracy, and Caleb Williams taking the first step in his NFL journey -- one he hopes will lead him on a path to "immortality."

But that's a long way down the line. While Williams has big visions, his focus remains on the small stride that comes next.

"Obviously, you have goals that you set for yourself right in the moment, and also, you have goals that you set in the future," Williams said. "So that's important. But also understanding the moment that we're in and being in that moment is really important. I would say taking it a step at a time, handling it the way it needs to be handled, and being a professional is really important. All of those go in one."

Step 2 comes Saturday.

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