There were two members of the Chicago Bears 2021 draft class that had yet to meet the media after the first two days of rookie minicamp, so earlier today Chicago made corner Thomas Graham Jr. and nose tackle Khyiris Tonga both available before practice.
Graham said he wasn’t told to concentrate on playing either outside corner or nickel corner, and instead he’s focusing on both spots while learning the playbook. His goal is to start, but understands that “nothing is given in this league, you got to go take it and earn it.”
He has some understanding of the scheme that Sean Desai (a Vic Fangio disciple) plans to run for the Bears this year, because his first defensive coordinator at Oregon is from the same coaching tree. “I just got to get used to the calls and the checks,” Graham said about his familiarity with the defensive philosophy that he previously worked in under former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Levitt who was with Fangio in San Francisco.
You can watch Graham’s full presser here.
Tonga has valued the learning opportunity this weekend has presented him saying “it’s been a fun experience,” and that his mentality “is just to come in work and to compete.”
As a nose tackle it’s hard to shine in a minicamp setting, so Tonga said he was trying to showcase his quickness and hand usage this weekend, while letting the coaches see how coachable he was.
As a young player Tonga would watch Haloti Ngata and Vita Vea and try to patter his game after them.
Tonga’s quick press conference can be seen here.
Head coach Matt Nagy was finally able to be in person at Halas Hall, after his close contact COVID quarantine was over, and he wrapped up the weekend in a post-practice press conference.
Even though today’s practice was just a walk through, Nagy was impressed with all the work the players put in over the entire weekend.
The first question asked today was about the quarterback position and Nagy reiterated that Andy Dalton will be the player getting the reps with the first team. The Bears have their QB plan in place and they’ll follow that as they get Justin Fields ready.
“I know that time is the biggest question right now for Justin and I completely understand that, because there is an excitement, there is that want for all of us to see what Justin can do,” Nagy said on Sunday. “We’d be lying to you if we didn’t say that or believe that. But we got to make sure as we go through this thing that we also do what’s best for the Bears and for Justin.”
Phase two of the NFL’s offseason program will get started tomorrow (May 17), which allows players to work out on-field at team facilities, and Nagy still isn’t sure about the Bears veteran participation. He excepts to know more tomorrow about that which will give them a better idea about what to expect for their first voluntary OTA that starts on June 1.
Tomorrow’s phase two workout is mostly about strength and conditioning, and the on-field stuff is more mental reps to see when everyone is at right now.
Nagy also spent some time discussing how the depth at running back and wide receiver is better this year, saying it’s a “credit to (GM) Ryan (Pace) and the personal (scouting staff) to bringing in guys that can really come in and compete from day one and make everybody else better.”
You can check out Nagy’s full Sunday presser right here.