Bear Minicamp Observations: Fields and Attack Still Have a Long Way to Go

Bear Minicamp Observations: Fields and Attack Still Have a Long Way to Go
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LAKE FOREST — In final OTA practice, the Bears offense struggled to gain ground.

It was pretty much the same Tuesday when the minicamp’s first mandatory practice at Halas Hall.

With the referees in attendance, head coach Matt Eberflus opted to ditch the scripted plays and let his offense go against the defense to simulate a frame of play.

That eight-game streak began with Justin Fields hitting Darnell Mooney on a passing route for a decent pickup.

A false start to rookie left tackle Braxton Jones put the offense behind the sticks. But Fields got the offense out of trouble, hitting running back David Montgomery on a swing pass for a short gain before connecting with Equanimeous St. Brown on a tilt for a big play.

Then the offense stagnated.

Fields pitched incomplete for Velus Jones Jr. on the left side, and the defense blasted a pitch to Khalil Herbert on the next play to set up the third and long. Fields connected to St. Brown on a cordoned off road 1 yard from the sticks. The Bears went for it in fourth-and-first, but the offensive line was whistled for a period-ending false start.

Eberflus noted that Fields and the offense are still very early in the setup. This and the nature of unpadded workouts can lead to more errors than you might see in a workout where running game is a legitimate threat.

“I would just say we keep working to improve in everything – footwork, timing and keep working on that,” Eberflus said of Fields and the offense. “I think it’s a bit because you don’t have as many game passes in this context here because you don’t really direct the ball. It almost becomes almost like passing camp sometimes because you work on your passing game, due to the nature of the business.

“So I think those windows will become clearer and more open once we get the pads in place, so I’m excited to see that.”

Fields finished with a tough streak in the 11-on-11 portion of practice.
It started with Jaylon Johnson skipping an out route intended for Nsimba Webster and taking it back for what would have been a six pick.

Fields then received a pass from Micah Dew-Treadway before missing his next attempt to complete the tough streak.

“How do you answer? Eberflus said when asked what he wanted to see from Fields after those games. “Bounce. Bounce. We’re all gonna get knocked down, right? Every one of us. We’re all knocked down in life. What are you doing? Bounce. Get up, next game.

“That’s what I want to see from all of our players, and that’s important. We are all going to have adversity. You must step in and move on to the next room. That’s what I want to see from him and the rest of the team too.

The Bears offense has bogged down in sessions that the media has seen. But some of their struggles could be the product of a defense that already seems to have bought into all the intensity of Eberflus, all the time mantra.

“Definitely a lot,” Mooney said when asked how the defense contested the attack. “We realized the first two weeks where they were getting the ball out, kicking the ball, were everywhere. The way they run for the ball makes you scream and make you want to end up in the end zone because you have guys screaming at you and running fast at you.

“It will help us, for sure. Just to be able to finish and understand that the guys are going to keep coming.

Fields admitted he and the offense had a long way to go, but he was adamant they would be ready when Week 1 rolled around.

“I think, for me, it’s just not about making the same mistake twice,” Fields said. “If you make that mistake on a game, don’t make it again. If you keep improving and growing, there will be fewer mistakes every day, and of course you’ll be where you want to be.”

Other notes from Day 1 of the mandatory minicamp:

–Robert Quinn was not present on Tuesday. Eberflus appeared disappointed that the veteran Edge rusher chose not to show up, but said he would let general manager Ryan Poles sort it out. The absence was not justified.

— Offensive guard Dakota Dozier had to be pulled from practice with what appeared to be a leg injury. Dozier, who is expected to compete for the starting right guard position, saw action primarily as a backup left guard before his injury.

–The Bears’ first offensive line Tuesday saw Braxton Jones at left tackle, Cody Whitehair at left guard, Lucas Patrick at center, Sam Mustipher at right guard and Larry Borom at right tackle. Teven Jenkins worked as the second-team right tackle.

Eberflus said the Bears will stick with that roster for the rest of minicamp before deciding how to move forward heading into training camp.

“So we just assess the talents of the guys, assess their skill level and go from there,” Eberflus said. “You want to start refining it. Guys have the same look all the time, ‘I play the right guard, I play the right tackle,’” and they have the same look, the same mechanics, so to speak. The technical mechanics to play the position. We want to refine that; the earliest would be best. We just don’t have the answer right now.

–Jaquan Brisker also picked Fields, but this one was on catcher Dazz Newsome who let a ball bounce off his hands and into the arms of Bears rookie safety.

— Kyler Gordon and Al Quadin-Muhammad were present but did not participate in practice.

— Rod Marinelli watched practice on Tuesday and will speak to the team on Wednesday.

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