What we learned as Fields, rookies make splash plays on Day 3


LAKE FOREST – The first two days of Bears training camp lacked notable moments. Day 1 was an 80-minute ramp-up day, and the offense's struggles owned Day 2.

Day 3 was different.

Friday at Halas Hall saw the Bears focus a large chunk of practice time on red-zone and goal-line situations. There was no shortage of highlight plays.

While the offense has an inherent advantage in red-zone and goal-line drills, the defense struck first.

Justin Fields' first pass of the period was behind Darnell Mooney. The ball bounced off the receiver's hand, and rookie Kyler Gordon snared it with one hand for the interception. On the next play, Fields threw a nice ball to Byron Pringle in the front corner of the end zone, but it clanked off the receiver's hands.

The defense struck again on the next series. Fields rifled a ball toward his tight end Cole Kmet who was breaking open over the middle of the field, but rookie safety Jaquan Brisker jumped the route perfectly and took it back for a training camp pick-six.

The Bears' second-round picks owned the start of the red-zone period, much to the delight of head coach Matt Eberflus.

"It's good," Eberflus said of his two second-round picks making plays. "Like I said the other day, ball-hawks, that's what they are. That's why we brought them here."

But Fields had the final say.

He found Darnell Mooney for a touchdown on the next throw. Then, on the ensuing series, he broke away from pressure, got to the corner, and hit the gas for a 20-yard rushing touchdown.

Then, Fields made one of the signature plays of practice.

He faked to David Montgomery and boot-legged to the right where Trevis Gipson was waiting. The Bears quarterback knew he had Kmet coming open across the formation, but the only way to get the tight end the ball was to, well, jump. Fields left the ground and floated the ball over Gipson's out-stretched hands to Kmet for an easy walk-in touchdown.

Two plays later, Fields evaded pressure by moving to the left in the pocket before being flushed out to the right. After buying time, he zipped an off-platform throw to Equanimeous St. Brown in the front-right corner of the end zone. St. Brown was covered well by Kindle Vildor, but the wide receiver went up and picked the ball off the corner's head to end the 11-on-11 period with an impressive touchdown and a "too short" celebration.

Here are more notes from Day 3 of training camp:

-- Fields kept the hot streak going after the 11-on-11 period, completing every pass in the seven-on-seven drill, including consecutive touchdown passes to Mooney, Montgomery, and N'Keal Harry. After the two interceptions to open practice, Fields delivered an excellent outing.

-- Head coach Matt Eberflus said center Lucas Patrick has a right hand injury. There is no timetable for his return. Tackle Teven Jenkins and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. are "working through things with the trainer." The Bears won't divulge injury information during training camp.

-- With Patrick out, rookie Doug Kramer has been getting the majority of reps at first-team center. Eberflus has been pleased with the progress from the rookie out of Illinois.

"Yeah, super smart. Able to make all the calls," Eberflus said. "Sometimes you think, well mentally it might be too big for somebody to make the MIKE points and change protections with the quarterback and make the line calls and be the point guy on that. It's not. He's able to do that. Now, the physical side of it, he has to learn leverage and how to play and jump to the second level under control and be able to stick and stay on linebackers, you know, understanding all those things. That's to be expected. You're going to have that as a rookie. He's learning that and he's athletic enough to do that and we're excited where he is."

-- Left guard Cody Whitehair and tight end Ryan Griffin got veteran rest days Friday.

-- With Patrick and Whitehair not practicing and veteran tackle Riley Reiff still ramping up, the Bears' four draft picks saw a lot of first-team reps together alongside right tackle Larry Borom. Rookie guard Ja'Tyre Carter has seen a lot of first-team reps at right guard, and Eberflus admitted a rookie, like Carter, could win a job in camp.

-- St. Brown also beat Gordon for a touchdown during the 11-on-11 portion.

-- Velus Jones Jr. is a fan of what N'Keal Harry can bring to the Bears.

"He's a baller," Jones said. "I actually seen N'Keal when I was at USC. When he made that one-handed catch vs. USC, I was at that game and I also seen that punt return he made on us. So, he's a playmaker.
"He's like way more polished than he was back then and he's really impressive like the way he blocks, the way you know he runs his routes and stuff and his hand-eye coordination. Yeah, he's a special guy."
Fields found Harry for a touchdown in the seven-on-seven portion of practice, and the big-body receiver won a jump ball over Greg Stroman in individual drills.

-- Gordon had a good rep in individual drills, breaking up a pass ticketed for Mooney. Mooney later beat Duke Shelley for a touchdown on a nice out route.

-- The Bears will host their final practice of Week 1 on Saturday before taking Sunday off.

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