Bears training camp observations: What we learned on Day 1


LAKE FOREST – The first training camp practice of the Matt Eberflus era kicked off Wednesday with a ramp-up practice. The Bears spent 80 minutes in the Lake Forest heat, doing one-on-one drills in the red zone, some situational team drills, and light individual work.

That’s to be expected on Day 1 of camp. Eberflus said after the practice that the Bears would continue to ramp things up over the next few days.

New offensive line additions Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield participated in individual drills but not in the team portion as they work to get up to speed.

The first-team offensive line for the team period was the same as we last saw at mandatory minicamp: Braxton Jones, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Sam Mustipher, and Larry Borom. Teven Jenkins got some use as an extra eligible blocker, and Matt Eberflus said Jenkins, among others, could compete for the swing tackle position.

“Yeah, we’re certainly looking at a bunch of guys at that spot but that’s going to be a competition for that swing tackle spot,” Eberflus said when asked about Jenkins. “And then who else can play inside? Who can flex inside at the guard and center positions? So that’s going to be something that’s ongoing. We’re going to look at that the entire training camp.”

Elsewhere on Day 1, Velus Jones Jr. beat Kyler Gordon one-on-one in the red zone with a slick, out-breaking move that allowed the rookie receiver to break wide open for a touchdown. Cole Kmet also made a touchdown snag in red zone drills, while Jaquan Brisker notched an interception.

An interesting note as it pertains to Gordon.

After working solely at outside corner during OTAs (he didn’t participate in minicamp), the second-round pick saw time at slot corner on Day 1 of training camp. Eberflus has said the Bears would look to move players around to different positions – especially cornerbacks and wide receivers – if they can handle it.

Gordon’s movement skills and athleticism allow him to play outside and inside. The rookie could potentially enter the nickel competition as the Bears search for the best three-cornerback group.

“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Eberflus said of Gordon on Wednesday. “He’s uber smart. I mean, he’s so smart. And he’s able to move in and out. He can play any position. I think the guy could play three positions if we let him, but we’re not going to do that. But he’s doing a great job.”

Other notes from Day 1 of training camp:

-- The Bears placed Roquan Smith and Sam Kamara on the PUP list. Dane Cruikshank, Michael Joseph, and Tajae Sharpe all went on the NFI list.

-- After not reporting for mandatory minicamp, Robert Quinn was present and participated on Day 1 of training camp. The veteran defensive lineman spoke to the media after practice. Quinn said he wants to be a Bear but understands the NFL is a business.

“I’ve been traded twice,” Quinn said. “You get tired of moving. I thought I did a good job last year, but I guess I’ll just continue to try to re-prove myself. I expect to be here, but I guess if not, well, that’s out of my control. I’m just going to take it day by day and have fun here with the guys and just let life take its course.”

-- Safety Eddie Jackson was among the players who returned punts on Day 1 of training camp. Jackson was a prolific return man at Alabama but hasn’t been asked to return in his NFL career.

“It’s all hands on deck, right?” Eberflus said when asked about Jackson returning punts. “So, we’re looking at all those guys back there, if it’s Velus or [Byron] Pringle or whoever it is back there returning those kicks or punts. That’s going to be an important piece. We want explosive athletes out on the field and the more we can do that … Eddie’s certainly that. He’s going to be competing for those things. Is it for the second spot or the third spot? I don’t know. But he can certainly do it.”
-- The Bears hosted the Highland Park High School Football Team, among other groups, Wednesday at Halas Hall. Thursday will be the first full day practice is open to fans.

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