Only one sleep until fans get to see Bears training camp practices with their own two eyes. See you folks there!
In the meantime, let’s roundup some highlights during Matt Eberflus’ first practice.
N’Keal Harry’s Surprise
If N’Keal Harry regains the form that made him a first-round pick in 2019, I’ll be telling stories that begin “I’ll never forget where I was when the Bears made the N’Keal Harry trade.” That’s because it was on what had otherwise been a slow news day during the part of the football offseason that crawls. I was having drinks with a friend and mapping out dinner plans when the push notification came on my phone. While simultaneously banging out a post and sipping a brewski, I was explaining how this was a nice low-cost roll-of-the-dice for a Bears team that was in dire need of receiver help.
Had I not been out and about, I probably would’ve found out in a similar way to Harry:
Nothing like waking up from a solid afternoon nap to news of your own trade. And since his time with the Patriots was a slog, I can only imagine the excitement that came over Harry’s body knowing he was getting a clean slate with a new team.
For what it’s worth, Harry isn’t taking this new lease on a football life lightly:
I’m looking forward to see the receivers at work tomorrow. And Harry is at the top of my list.
Time to Get Hard
Here’s a shot…
… and a chaser:
The two tweets work hand-in-hand. And together, they remind us of something from the past. That’s because former Bears coach Matt Nagy used to talk about callousing the Bears through practice. While the idea was a good one, execution of the plan wasn’t what folks wanted it to be over the long haul. Hence, it is one reason as to why Nagy is the former head coach. But where Nagy talked about it, the ridiculously early returns at Camp Flus is that the practices are a bit more spirited.
All in all, this is an encouraging development. Although, be sure not to cross the line. The NFL and NFLPA definitely have eyes on the Bears after Chicago’s football team got caught in the crosshairs for its practice tactics during OTAs.
Eddie Jackson Goes Back to the Future
Eddie Jackson is a familiar face spending time in a new place on Wednesday:
As CHGO’s Adam Hoge points out, Jackson was a star punt returner in college. And when we did our draft pick write-up back in 2017, we highlighted Jackson’s special teams skills as a plus. Jackson briefly fielded punts during his first training camp in Chicago. But it wasn’t long until John Fox pulled him from that role to install him as a starting safety. Good call, Foxy.
Roquan Smith’s New Role
ICYMI: Roquan Smith is starting the summer on the PUP list. In what is likely a show of good faith by GM Ryan Poles to sidestep fining Smith for missing practices after showing up to camp, the Bears star linebacker will be on the sidelines and not on the field. Even though Smith will be roaming the sidelines, Eberflus still has plans for the tackling machine:
I’m glad Eberflus is excited to coach Smith. And I’d bet he’d be even *MORE* excited if he knew Smith would be here beyond this year on a nice extension from the team.
- ‘Tis the season:
- I had my concerns earlier in the summer when second-round pick Kyler Gordon and free agent addition Al-Quadin Muhammad weren’t participating in OTAs. But that they’re healthy and rolling in July is far more important than missing out on reps in May and/or June.
- Justin Fields must’ve made one heckuva first impression to get this bit of praise:
- During his Wednesday press conference, Eberflus name-checked Byron Pringle and Velus Jones Jr. as hypothetical options in the mix to return kicks and punts. Throw in Eddie Jackson fielding punts above and Dazz Newsome doing so last year and I feel as if someone good will emerge as a strong option. And while I don’t imagine Jackson returning punts in the regular season, I do love the “all hands on deck” approach Eberflus brings to the table.
- I still want to see the Bears mix up their defense and put Jackson as a slot defender every now and again. Firstly, because Jackson is a capable defender of making an impact out of that spot. And secondly, because I am pro any wrinkle that can make a quarterback think more than they want. Putting Jackson in the slot from time-to-time would accomplish that. But in the meantime, Tavon Young looks to be getting first crack as a nickel corner:
- And so did Kyler Gordon!
- New face, familiar space:
- Love this energy from the Bears’ newest left tackle. Riley Reiff, who spent time at left tackle today, sounds more like a hungry up-start than a veteran trying to extend his career by a year. I won’t fool myself into thinking Reiff is a potential long-term solution at left tackle. Reiff very well could be this year’s version of Jason Peters. But I think Reiff could play a Peters-like role in being a stabilizing force for an offensive line that starts the summer with plenty of questions and not enough suitable answers.
- That’s hot:
- Positive vibes only from the Bears’ single-season sack champ, who insists he doesn’t want to be traded:
- You know you’re a die-hard Bears fan when you have the audacity to get jerseys for a Bears quarterback and receiver:
- Does this confirm Schofield as an Orton > Grossman guy? Or even an Orton > Cutler fan? There are still questions we need answers to, my friends.
- A nice touch by the Bears: