Camp Notes: Fields Struggling With Late Throws, Running Game Impresses, Gordon’s Versatility Shines

The main storyline of camp this year was supposed to be QB Justin Fields, but the saga of Teven Jenkins has made tracking the progress of Fields a mere afterthought. Reports surfaced on Monday that the Bears are fielding offers for the second-year tackle. Here are your Tuesday morning highlights.

  • When asked late last week about Jenkins’ absence from practice, head coach Matt Eberflus said Jenkins was “working through something with the trainers” and was “day-to-day.”
  • It turns out that the only injury Jenkins is suffering from is a bruised ego. The combination of injury issues and maturity concerns shouldn’t prevent a Jenkins trade because of the tackle’s elite athleticism. Injuries are one thing. But if Jenkins isn’t taking his demotion well, that complicates things. The Bears aren’t very deep on the line, so if there is interest in moving Jenkins, things have reached an untenable state.
  • This story has been beaten to death, so until there is a resolution, it’s best for everyone to move on. I’d rather discuss Fields anyway.
  • If you’ve been jonesing for the deep ball accuracy of Fields, this pass to Velus Jones Jr. during Saturday’s practice is a sight to behold. Greg Stroman Jr. is the poor soul that was scorched in this play.

  • The beautiful pass is one thing, but my God, look at the separation Jones Jr. gets on the defensive back. The Bears haven’t had the kind of speed and ability to separate at that position since Willie Gault.
  • Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Fields has taken full ownership of Chicago’s offense. “That’s what’s so special about him,” Getsy said. “Forget the athletic part. That guy, the way he attacks every single day and his approach and leads by example, doesn’t ask anybody to do anything he doesn’t expect of himself. That guy’s a natural-born leader-type of guy, so we’re lucky to have a guy like that leading this thing.”
  • The difference is palpable to receiver Darnell Mooney. He said Fields is “being more vocal and just having the understanding that he is the guy and this is his team.”
  • Crisp execution continues to be a point of emphasis for the Bears’ offense. “We talked to the offense just about getting lined up and being crisp with our alignments and our motions and having the tempo to put the pressure on the defense,” Eberflus said Monday. “When you line up in a quick manner and motion with a crisp manner and then snap the ball, you’re not giving them time to line up and adjust and make their calls on defense.”
  • The QB1 has been far from perfect early in training camp. Eberflus was asked Monday about Fields appearing to be late on several throws: “I think he’s working through the offense. We’re putting in new plays every day. We’re changing up the scheme every day. We’re still adding plays as we go, and he’s learning the scheme. He’s learning his footwork within that play. When he has his footwork right, the ball’s good, [and] looks great. That’s what he’s continuing to do.” Fields’ detractors won’t back down until he can prove he’s consistent.
  • The versatility of rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon has been evident in training camp, with the Bears’ top draft pick impressing at both cornerback and nickel back. Eberflus lauded the work that defensive backs coach James Rowe and assistant defensive backs coach David Overstreet II have done with Gordon to prepare him for practice.
  • The coaching staff continues to be impressed by the work of the team’s rookies. Safety Elijah Hicks drew praise on Monday for his movement skills. According to reports, Hicks is usually the first on the field and one of the last to leave. That’s how a seventh-round pick makes the team.
  • Mitchell Trubisky is no longer with the Bears, but he talks enough about the organization to make one think otherwise. It’s no question Matt Nagy misused Trubisky while he was in Chicago. Nagy ran Andy Reid‘s offense as one of his disciples. In that offense, the quarterback is restricted to the pocket more often than not. With a below-average offensive line and a quarterback that thrives on the run, that combination of factors can’t yield consistent success. We saw the same thing with Fields in 2021.

Five Things

  1. The run game is worth keeping an eye on. There have been several runs during camp on which David Montgomery has quickly reached the second level, including one Monday. An effective run game will sell all of the play-action plays the Bears plan to deploy. A good portion of the Bears’ snaps on offense Monday were also devoted to working on screens. That’s significant. Over the last two seasons, the Bears have failed to get Montgomery enough touches to be effective. That won’t be a problem under Getsy.
  2. Entering the final year of his rookie contract would seemingly provide even more motivation for Montgomery in 2022. But the running back insists that any extra incentive stems from knowing that he’s due to become a father in January.
  3. The Bears had the option to start with pads on Monday, but Eberflus said he wanted to continue to “ramp up” his team with Sunday also an off day. The head coach said the team will go to full pads on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he has scheduled Thursday as a day off.
  4. Linebacker Roquan Smith still hasn’t practiced with the team. D.K. Metcalf and Deebo Samuel opened training camp as “hold-ins” — reporting to camp but not participating until they landed new contracts — and the strategy quickly produced a massive pay raise for each. It’s tough to say if Smith will be the beneficiary of a big offer anytime soon. Because Smith is on the PUP list, he is inaccessible to the media. Eberflus had nothing new to report, adding that it’s up to GM Ryan Poles and Smith to work something out. He did say that Smith remains a team-first player despite not practicing. “I just feel that he’s being a professional. He’s in the meetings and he’s doing a good job of helping the younger players. Again, he’s still on PUP, so …”
  5. Somehow the Bears have managed to upstage the Cubs this week, even though MLB is entering the final hours before the league-imposed trade deadline. Make sure you follow us at Cubs Insider for all the news and rumors surrounding Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and David Robertson.

Camp Quotes

  • “We were just outside after practice throwing routes, and you have guys see him [and] walk over. You can’t just walk off the field. You’re like, ‘I’ve got to get more reps with him.'” – Mooney
  • “What we expect out of that is really you get to see guys play the game. So far you’ve seen pass rushers rush against offensive tackles who have no pads on. You’ve seen the run blocking with no pads on. It’s hard to evaluate that. When you get the pads on now, you can really see [that] guys will either rise or they’ll fall a little bit based on the pads. I’ve seen it every year. So we’re looking for that. We’re looking for guys that can play with leverage, play with the pads on, and the guys that are physical because we covet the guys that are physical, that want to play the style we want to play.” – Eberflus
  • “Justin will get on you if you’re not doing the right thing. I lined up in the wrong formation. But that’s what quarterbacks do. That’s leadership. That’s not him harping up on me, or [anything] like that. He wants to win, and I want to win as well. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it’s going to take. And not just only him getting on me. It’s anybody.”Byron Pringle
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