A small army of number one jerseys stormed the gates of Halas Hall on Thursday, the first practice open to the public. Most of them sported the home navy threads with a small number of orange and white ones dotting the stands. Some chose the screen printed version, others opted for the stitching, while at least a few procured their duds outside of the official NFL shop. The humans inside those jerseys came in all shapes and sizes but overwhelmingly, the younger generation wanted to see and talk only of Justin.
At one point, a group of eight fans walked toward me, all wearing a Fields jersey, seven navy and one white. When Fields broke the huddle, breaths were held, eyes were glued. When Nathan Peterman or Trevor Siemian started their cadence, side talk commenced, eyes dropped to phones. After practice, the prospect of a Justin Fields autograph held up the exodus of fans for at least 15 minutes until he cleared the area.
Bears Nation has caught a case Fields Fever. I have no interest in finding a cure.
- Take everything with a grain of salt in the early days, particularly days without pads on. It is near impossible to evaluate line play without hitting.
- Lucas Patrick exited early, replaced by rookie Doug Kramer.
- Matt Eberflus and his coaching staff were not joking about the HITS philosophy. Players not hustling were called out with “that’s not full speed - RUN RUN RUN” and a “do it again.” Eddie Jackson received a personal call out early in the practice.
- Roquan Smith was spotted on the sidelines on the “PUP” list to start the year. He looks physically ready to step in and be just fine once the contract situation is figured out.
- Cole Kmet had the best day of any offensive player. He burned Eddie Jackson twice - once on a throw from Justin Fields in a 1v1 drill, which earned Jackson another tongue lashing for not finishing the rep, and another on a throw from Peterman down the seam. He also had an excellent catch down the field from Fields to finish the 7 on 7 drill.
- The defense won the 7 on 7 drill against Fields. He finished 5/10 with one drop and one INT, a tipped ball off the hands of N’Keal Harry. The defense looked sticky in coverage and Fields had to move through his progression quickly on most of the throws.
- Velus Jones Jr. took the first reps on kick returns and figures to enter the year with a chance to solidify that role. Bryon Pringle, Khalil Herbert, and Trestan Ebner, in that order, followed with their reps.
- While Eddie Jackson did earn some verbal reprimands, he did have a nice rush off the edge and came up with an interception. An uneven start to camp for #4.
- The best interception of the day, however, came from Lamar Jackson off Trevor Siemian. Jackson then showed good dance moves after taking it back to the house and earlier on a PBU. He was a standout on Day 1.
- Darnell Mooney recorded the catch of the day and overall looked the part of the player in line for the most team targets.
Find me on Twitter @Gridironborn for pictures from today. I’ll be covering practice tomorrow and Saturday with Lester Wiltfong along with livestreams covering all three open practices.