Things were dreary outside Halas Hall as the Bears started their first training camp practice due to poor air quality and thunderstorms in the area, but inside the Walter Payton Center the offense was sharp. The team was nearly at full health, with Dante Pettis being the only man who didn’t participate on the field at all. Cole Kmet got to celebrate a new contract extension with catches over the middle. Plays were made and touchdowns were scored.
Here are key observations from Tuesday, July 26. The first day of Bears training camp.
JUSTIN FIELDS THROWING DARTS
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Fields got out to a hot start with a zippy individual drill where he needed to take a shotgun snap, navigate to the left, then deliver a ball to a net. He rarely missed his target.
From there, Fields didn’t slow up at all. He found several different receivers in both 7-on-7 drills and 11-on-11s. Highlights included several completions to DJ Moore, including one touchdown over rookie Tyrique Stevenson, and a nice throw over the middle where Cole Kmet used his body to box out Kyler Gordon. Fields also showed good recognition on several plays when the defense lost a running back or tight end leaking into the flat. On two occasions Fields found D’Onta Foreman and Robert Tonyan uncovered and checked down to get them the ball in space for big gains.
DARNELL MOONEY, JACK SANBORN RAMPING UP
Matt Eberflus shared on report day that the team had individual plans for guys working back from injury. On Wednesday we got a chance to see what it looked like. Sanborn worked with the starting linebackers in individual drills, but did not participate in any team drills. When he was off the field Noah Sewell took over as the starting SAM linebacker. Sewell had one particularly impressive rep in 11-on-11s where he found a hole on a blitz, rushed a Fields throw and forced an incompletion.
Mooney was also limited, but he took part in a bit of 7-on-7 work, and even made a catch in that period. Mooney did not participate when the team went to 11-on-11.
“The more they can handle as we go, we’ll just keep on inchin’ ‘em up,” Eberflus said.
VELUS JONES JR. GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE
Jones Jr. continues to work to try to erase memories of last season, where he struggled in several phases of the game. This summer, Jones Jr. has been involved early and often whenever he’s on the field. On Wednesday he made several catches, including a touchdown. His most impressive catch of the day came in 1-on-1 drills, when he outmuscled Kindle Vildor on a particularly physical rep, then made a lunging grab to come away with the completion.
Eberflus noted Jones Jr.’s increased comfortability not only on offense, where he’ll have to fight for reps, but on special teams where the team initially projected he could be an impact playmaker.
“You can see that his function in terms of being able to be confident, know what he’s doing, know how to do it, is really starting to show.”