The Chicago Bears held their second practice of training camp Thursday morning at Halas Hall, the first open to the public with a large crowd in attendance for the action.
The 90-minute practice went by quickly and the most notable absence was inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who is on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He spent some time with his position group during individual exercises and could be seen chatting with his teammates.
Here are three things we learned.
They probably didn’t think three rookies would be working with the first team on Day 2 of camp. But that’s where they met Thursday after center Lucas Patrick was escorted off the field by a coach following an unknown injury.
Sixth-round pick Doug Kramer was brought in to replace Patrick. Fifth-round pick Braxton Jones rotated at left tackle with Riley Reiff, and the Bears gave Ja’Tyre Carter, a seventh-round pick, some snaps at right guard.
Suffice to say, that’s not how the team plans to protect quarterback Justin Fields, especially after adding Reiff and fellow veteran Michael Schofield this week. It’s good to put the players in different positions and evaluate them. Going forward, the hope for GM Ryan Poles is that some of the last-round linemen in his first draft class will show starting ability.
Not seen in practice was Teven Jenkins, the 2021 second-round pick who missed all of camp and preseason last summer with a back injury that led to surgery.
Coach Matt Eberflus has been deliberately noncommittal about health-related information, so it remains to be seen what update he will provide after Friday’s practice. Patrick had no trouble getting off the field and the injury appeared to be on the right side of his upper body. He was seen driving out of the facility when he finished practice.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy sounded like the additions of Reiff and Schofield gave him a comfort level.
“I’m excited to see all those guys work,” Getsy said. “But I’m glad we were able to add more pieces and we have two vets that you speak of, just two professionals that we added to the room. Whether they’re part of those (initial) five or not, they’ve already added a ton to that room.”
The rookie is working at right cornerback and in the slot as the nickel running back. That’s an indication of how physically gifted the Bears believe Poles’ No. 1 pick in the draft is and that they believe he can handle the mental preparation required to learn two positions at once after Gordon missed much of the offseason program. with an unspecified injury.
“I was excited,” Gordon said. “I had a feeling they were going to tell me I was going to play nickel when we were doing OTAs, so I was prepared for that. When they told me, honestly, I had the biggest smile on my face because I love nickel and I love what I get to do there, so it’s been a lot of fun.
“You can just be more (involved versus) the running game, just a different job. I feel like me in the nickel, I’m just a nervous guy so I like to react a lot. I just enjoy it and being able to be fit too. I can only do so many different things there and really show all my skills.”
Eberflus has talked about the Bears potentially being in his subpack up to 80% of the time, so the nickel is a key position, one that featured one of the best and most versatile players on defense when the coach was the coordinator in Indianapolis. with Kenny Moore at his disposal.
The challenge for Gordon will be showing that he understands all the moving parts when he slides in because it’s more complicated than lining up outside, where he can also stick out.
“He’s a rare athlete, man,” free safety Eddie Jackson said. “If you look at it, like some of the plays he makes, he’s not even his guy. He’s getting off his man, making plays with the ball. So just seeing how instinctive he is. He is clever. He is willing to learn. He talks less, he absorbs everything. When you have a guy like that, you know he’s going to be special.”
“We’ve been meeting,” Jackson said of the Poles’ second-round pick. “Sometimes he comes to my house, we sit, we watch movies. He is asking a lot of questions. All the correct questions. I’m just trying to give him advice like how to play this, how to play this, he was too stoned. Listening to him train himself and the little things. He just shows you that he’s going to be very successful in his career because he pays attention to the little things that most guys don’t pay attention to.
“The first day I told him (I would help him). He was like ‘Yo! Can I go see the movie? We ate and watched movies, stuff like that. Like I said ‘Quan and Ky, there’s a lot of those guys, Jon (Alexander), all those guys. AJ (Thomas), Elijah (Hicks), they’re all learning. They ask a lot of questions and you see that they apply it in the field. They are working hard, keeping their heads down and continuing to work.”