Bears Training Camp Notes: Fields Thrives in Red Zone, Fullbacks and Tight Ends Shine, One DB Sleeper, More

There was laughter, defensive linemen singing along with Too Short, and Duke Shelley doing the Bobby Shmurda dance on the sidelines. And on a day where things could’ve been tense because of the Roquan Smith situation, it was pretty loose out at Halas Hall. So while there will be time for serious football conversations, there were moments today that remind me that it is OK to breathe, smile, and laugh.

But I’ve gotta work on my Bobby Shmurda dance…

Justin Fields is Strong in the Red Zone

Today was a “thumbs up” day for Fields. I wouldn’t bet the farm on a Super Bowl run or invest in 2022 MVP futures. But today represented a practice where I thought there was far more good than bad. Fields missed some opportunities, sure. And there were some plays that could’ve been made by defenders that weren’t. As practice came to a close, there were too many pressures allowed — keeping Fields from finishing with a flourish.

However, the overall body of work was good. Throws in the pocket and on the move were made. A mix of short and long. Fields was working with a lather early. And getting the ball out quickly, which was nice to see. Perhaps, most importantly, Fields’ best work came in the red zone early in practice. Considering how often this unit stalled inside the 20 last year, seeing Fields make plays in that area was encouraging.

(Side note: It was neat to meet Clay Harbor, the former NFL tight end now dabbling in NFL analyst ventures. Some might remember him from his playing career (98 games with the Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, and Pats). Others might recall his time on The Bachelor. But I had the privilege of covering Harbor when he was a tight end at Missouri State and I was a student reporter at SIU Carbondale. And despite the SIU-MSU rivalry, I didn’t have it in me to bring up the last time I saw him play in person. Because losing on a walk-off Hail Mary probably isn’t a memory he wants to call back.)

DeAndre Houston-Carson Keeps Making Plays

Seeing DeAndre Houston-Carson’s pick-six against Nathan Peterman was a treat:

You could see it coming as Peterman let it go. Heckuva job by DHC to undercut the route and make some magic happen. Seeing interceptions gives me mixed emotions at camp because I want to see the offense work. But I can’t not enjoy the playmaking. Moreover, I love how the defense plays through camp turnovers and treats pass drops like fumbles. It gives off Big Retro Lovie Years energy. And I feel as if baking in these traits now will play off when the regular season begins.

Extra Points

  • Was that the Bears’ best practice because of the music selection? Maybe. It certainly didn’t hurt.
  • Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom spent time with the Bears’ second- and third-string offenses at right tackle. If we’re allowing ourselves to pencil Riley Reiff into a starting right tackle slot, this leaves Borom and Jenkins battling for RT2 duties. I’d guess the Bears would roster both players on the season-opening 53-player roster. But in order for that to happen, both need to show off positional versatility. Borom has been doing that for a while practicing at both tackle spots, which positions him to be the team’s swing tackle. Jenkins has only begun to dabble in different positions this summer, spending time at right guard (in addition to right tackle). In any case, this is worth monitoring during preseason (and the rest of camp).
  • It will take time to get used to seeing the Bears employing a fullback again, but I’m here for it. And I’m on board with a usage that goes beyond being a blocking back. Khari Blasingame has made some plays as a receiver that had me jotting down nuggets on the notes app on my phone. More, please.
  • Jake Tonges, a FB on the roster but perhaps more of a H-back/TE type of player, made a superb catch on a nice Fields throw. Great camera work here, too:
  • Just as I was thinking Equanimeous St. Brown was angling to be Justin Fields’ OTHER favorite receiver, Tajae Sharpe had a day:
  • There were a handful of plays where Sharpe was on the receiving end of a connection with Fields. When Sharpe was coming out in his draft class, some saw him as a potential late-round riser. Maybe there is some post-hype sleeper potential with the UMass product.
  • If you’re looking for a training camp sleeper who could shine in the preseason, cornerback Lamar Jackson might be your guy. Jackson, 24, checks in at 6-3 and 215 pounds — making him the ideal build for a corner in the Eberflus defense. The length is problematic for aspiring ball-catchers, and it is evident at field level. Jackson spent some time with the first-team defense on Thursday, and I feel as if he could be in line for a heavy workload during the preseason. If he makes the most of his opportunities, he could make the team as the last DB on the season-opening 53-player roster.
  • Oof. The Bears gotta clean this up:
  • Part of me wants to take responsibility for this because I was chatting up a ref in the end zone and saying good job on a TD call earlier. I should know better than to say nice things about refs. Then again, penalties have been a problem with the Bears for a bit now. Their discipline problems went off the rails last year, which was among the (many) reasons Matt Nagy was shown the door. But Eberflus’ Colts were one of the least-penalized teams in football. And I’d like to see that play out with the Bears.
  • I’ll definitely take credit for the bounce-back from the penalty:
  • Eli’s got jokes:
  • It was wonderful to see ESPN 1000 host (and fellow Southern Illinois University guy) Marc Silverman and his family enjoying Bears camp at Halas Hall on Thursday. Always good to see a happy and healthy Silvy in person. To continued good health and prosperity.
  • written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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