Bears Training Camp Notes 8/10: Yannick’s Early Impact, QB2 Finds His Form, More

bears training camp
bears training camp

This was the last Halas Hall training camp practice for me this summer. I’ll be at the joint practices with the Colts outside Indianapolis next week. It’ll be a fun road trip, to be sure. And I’m also looking forward to linking up with some good people while I’m out there. But I digress, if only so I can share some thoughts from today.

Yannick Ngakoue is already making his mark

He hasn’t even been around for a full week’s worth of practices and Yannick Ngakoue is already leaving his mark on the Chicago Bears. While I was walking down from the bleachers at the end of practice, I caught Ngakoue and rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. working together. It was a pretty cool moment:

Maybe this is just the football nerd in me talking, but I love this stuff. Seeing a veteran work with a rookie after practice is the stuff I always try to keep tabs on at camp. It was one of my favorite things to do at Bourbonnais with the spread-out practice fields. Seeing which youngsters were hanging around to do some extra work and which vets are lending a helping hand helps add depth and layers to this team.

I hope Gervon Dexter Sr. was a sponge during this after-practice special session. Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus and Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams have been pounding the table and underscoring the importance of the 3-technique defensive tackle in this specific defensive system. This isn’t a foreign concept to those of us who were watching the peak years of Lovie Smith’s defense with a line anchored by Tommie Harris. In other words, any tips Dexter can pick up from Ngakoue will be welcome with open arms. Dexter might not be at the top of the depth chart now, but my hope is that he is on the path to becoming a starter by year’s end.

P.J. Walker picked a good time for his best camp day

Sometimes, I’ll have a thought and share it — only to ultimately feel like I’m on an island. And when I made an observation about backup quarterback P.J. Walker looking his best today, there was a small part of me wondering if I was seeing things. But it turns out that I wasn’t, which comes as a sigh of relief:

Don’t get it twisted. P.J. Walker isn’t going to make or break the 2023 Bears’ season. But that doesn’t mean Walker’s role isn’t important. Ideally, Walker comes to Chicago and helps the Bears around the edges in a variety of ways.

This time of year, things such as helping build the bond between Justin Fields and D.J. Moore (Walker and Moore were teammates in Carolina) and aiding in the development of young reserves (players such as receiver Tyler Scott and running back Roschon Johnson could learn a thing or two by following veteran leadership) come to mind. And if push comes to shove, the Bears will need Walker to steward them through a game in case Fields isn’t available. Considering that Fields is at risk of missing time on any given play in which he pulls the ball down and runs, having a capable QB2 can be quite valuable.

All in all, it is good timing for Walker to have his best showing at camp. We figure to see a lot of him during Saturday’s preseason opener against the Titans. And he’ll go into that game with the arrow pointing up.

Extra points

  • Cairo Santos hit all of his kicks on Thursday. Santos has looked as good as ever this summer. Maybe he is fully healthy and his body mechanics are in sync again. Or maybe that No. 8 is giving him super-kicking powers. Who’s to say?
  • In two years of watching Matt Eberflus camps, I realized how active he is throughout a given practice. Eberflus doesn’t stick to one spot too long. And it’s not as if he is just floating. Eberflus will get in there and chop it up with rookies and vets alike. He’ll even give some hands-on instruction every now and again. I suppose this is a perk of being a CEO-style head coach — you can have your hands in everything if you really need to.
  • Eddie Jackson seems to have an extra pep in his step these days. The unquestioned leader of the defense, you can see his teammates rally around him before 11-on-11s. When the Bears vote for captains this year, there is a part of me that expects Jackson will be one. Remember, Jackson earned captain status last year and probably should retain it going into 2023. No. 4 is one of a kind and I’m glad that his play began to revert to his vintage form last year. Here’s to a year of good health for the longest-tenured defensive player.
  • Quotable:
  • Me: “I wish P.J. Walker would’ve picked a number other than 15 because I keep thinking it’s Trevor Siemian out there.

    Greg Braggs Jr.: “You don’t see 15 and think Patrick Mahomes?”

    Me: “I try not to think about Mahomes being on the Bears, but that’s going to come up in therapy on Tuesday.”

  • While I like taking jabs at myself, I’d like to add that mental health is as important as physical health. Do what you need to do to take care of your mental state. You only get one brain, after all.
  • I got a good chuckle watching the Bears practice clock management drills. There was one sequence where Justin Fields ran to kneel on a spot, re-gathered the offense, and clocked the ball. It was a part of practice that I doubt most folks would even think about tweeting. But for me, as someone who has seen way too many Bears teams muck up late-game situations, it was at least nice to see that they practice for these situations. They shouldn’t be unprepared when they pop up in real games.
  • There was no way I was making it through this whole post without mentioning that D.J. Moore hauled in another catch from Justin Fields that stopped me in my tracks. He is the truth, folks.
  • A tease of things to come: The Bears had one play they ran in which D.J. Moore *AND* Darnell Mooney were both on the same side of the formation. That one will leave defensive coordinators up at night.
  • Who do I need to consult in order for the NFL to make punts inside-the-10 something that is prominently featured on a stats page? Don’t get me wrong. I understand the value of punts landing inside-the-20. But I feel as if punts inside-the-10 give off a better indication of how a punter is going. Then again, there are a lot of factors (such as where you’re punting from) that go into grading a punter. In any case, maybe that’ll be something I have to monitor myself.
  • 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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