There are bound to be plenty of ups and downs over the course of any training camp. A combination of spending each day with the same people, tending to largely the same routine, and sometimes demanding more of your body than it’s willing to expend in a non-game atmosphere means an occasional lack of sharpness is inevitable.
Tuesday was no different. Ask Justin Fields and the Bears’ No. 2 offense. A few days after an electric preseason debut at Soldier Fields, Chicago’s prodigy quarterback and his fellow back-ups struggled at Halas Hall. Meanwhile the man everyone with a loose connection to Chicago wants Fields to supplant, Andy Dalton, had one of his better sessions. It’s to be expected for any rookie and there’s still a long ways to go before the regular season opener against the Rams, but it’s a terse reminder of how much more the 22-year-old must grow before the Bears’ coaching staff is comfortable handing him the starting reins.
Onward and upward to the running recap, which featured one snap the audience has been waiting for with bated breath.
We have a Justin Fields snap with Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin. Long completion to Goodwin. And now back to the Bears reserves.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 17, 2021
Matt Nagy has discussed at length how the Bears were going to work in Fields with targets like Allen Robinson. While this was but one (and the only) mere exciting glimpse, it’s an encouraging step forward as Fields works his way through the rest of Chicago’s exhibitions.
This was Fields’ only rep with the first-team WRs today and multiple fans have pointed out that the pass carried Goodwin out of bounds, which was tough to see from the far side of the field. https://t.co/IIlx1LKFow— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 17, 2021
Unfortunately that Fields throw downfield with the offensive 1’s didn’t go exactly as planned as initial reactions might have maintained. That’s why more than one snap will be necessary to build chemistry.
It was an emblem of what, again, could have been much a better late morning for Fields and company.
Overall, tough day for Justin Fields and the No. 2 offense. Too many balls on the ground. Penalties were an issue. Fields has been very accurate for most of camp, but something seemed off today.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 17, 2021
On the flip side, aside from Eddie Jackson pantsing him on one play, Andy Dalton reminded the Bears why he’s had a 10-year career—in passing moments, he provides competence more than most professional quarterbacks.
QB thoughts from Bears practice…— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 17, 2021
- Andy Dalton was dealing to start, connecting a couple times with Allen Robinson. Later he did throw an INT to Eddie Jackson.
- Not Justin Fields’ best day. Had a nice throw to Riley Ridley, but the second-team offense never got in a rhythm.
Regardless of who is under center, it’s always nice to have a sound reminder of who Allen Robinson is, and what he’s about as a playmaker.
Andy Dalton connects with a diving Allen Robinson along the right sideline to start the team period. Tashaun Gipson did blitz off the right edge and most likely would have blown up the play.— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) August 17, 2021
Next play, Angelo Blackson comes up the middle unblocked.
On the other side of the ball, a certain former Western Pennsylvania cornerback appears to be making out an open competition for the boundary cornerback slot opposite Jaylon Johnson. Kindle Vildor, while promising, has a ways to go before locking in a full-time role.
Something to note, Artie Burns has been in at cornerback opposite of Jaylon Johnson in each drill so far.— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) August 17, 2021
Speaking of Johnson, his teammate, Tashaun Gipson, a safety who’s seen his fair share of defensive backs over the years, had high praise for the sophomore talent.
Tashaun Gipson on Jaylon Johnson: "In a few years he'll be regarded as a top-five corner. And that's a soundbite I'm willing to put out there."— Alex Shapiro (@AlexShapiroNBCS) August 17, 2021
Johnson has been flashing more and more in practices at Halas Hall. The trajectory towards star is not out of the question with more consistency.
In less than encouraging news, there may be a developing situation with Akiem Hicks.
There is definitely something happening right now. I won’t speculate, but I will tell you what I saw. To be clear, these things may not be related. Akiem Hicks walked off the field during stretches. HC Matt Nagy was then seen having an animated discussion with a member of the…— #TheBIGS (@itsthebigs) August 17, 2021
Hicks, who is entering his sixth season with the Bears, left early and did not practice.
Chicago’s defensive talisman, Khalil Mack, had choice words of praise for his new lead coach.
Khalil Mack on Sean Desai’s defense: “It’s going to be fun man. I can already tell it’s going to be fun.”— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) August 17, 2021
A callback to 2018 could be in the works thanks to Desai, according to the Bears’ top game-wrecker.
"Same thing, man." Khalil Mack on comparing this year's defense to 2018, when the #Bears were at the top of the league. He said this year is going to be "fun" #bearscamp pic.twitter.com/nwwUJLBTU3— Jackie Kostek (@JackieKostek) August 17, 2021
The primary spotlight rightfully rests on Justin Fields, but the Bears defense’s potential return to elite form is definite music to the ears of every soul at Halas Hall.
The Bears have one more practice open to the public, tomorrow morning, and another closed session on Thursday, before taking on the Bills once more at Soldier Field on Saturday.