LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields will throw the ball to DJ Moore a lot this season.
And Fields will attempt passes even if his No. 1 wide receiver is tightly covered or even doubled. Fields did just that on Day 2 of minicamp and had mixed results.
During Wednesday’s 7-on-7 session, Fields attempted to complete a pass to Moore on an intermediate route in the middle of the field. Jaylon Johnson was in perfect coverage, and it appeared the Bears’ cornerback may have got his hand on the ball. Regardless if Johnson tipped the pass or not, the ball was still intercepted by Jaquan Brisker and was returned for a touchdown.
Fields tried to fit a ball into a window and the defense capitalized.
A few plays later, though, in 7 on 7s, Fields again attempted a tight-window throw to Moore. This time it was in double coverage on a deep ball near the left sideline. Johnson was there and Elijah Hicks had help over the top, but Fields’ pass dropped right into Moore’s arms and after a slight bobble, Moore completed the explosive passing play.
This is the time, during minicamp, for Fields to experiment on the throws he can and can’t make. So, it shouldn’t be too alarming that there are mixed results in a June practice.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus also isn’t too concerned about the fluctuating results he sees from his quarterback.
“It’s just repetition. Coaching repetition, execution.,” Eberflus said. “Just go back and reset and say, ‘Hey, what was the situation that caused that?’ Work on it, refine and keep going forward. That’s what you do.”
With just Thursday’s session left remaining in minicamp, Fields will get another opportunity to close out on a strong note before getting a well-deserved break. But the work will pick up right where the quarterback left off, and a big focus for Fields this offseason has been on working on his quick release.
So far, Eberflus has liked what he has seen from the third-year quarterback.
“I think we’re on track. I really do,” Eberflus said. “I really feel good where we are. We have spent a lot of time and attention on that as well, and we’re going to continue doing that during training camp. To me that’s great to have those 7 on 7s, where you can work on the rhythm, the timing of it, work on your pass coverage as well, and we’re going to continue to do that. Like you guys said yesterday, we have guys that weren’t in there, Chase Claypool, Darnell Mooney, different guys that weren’t in there that we’re going to have to catch up on that. So we’re going to continue to do that.”
The up and down from the offense was the headline from the second day of minicamp, but there was still plenty of other takeaways from Wednesday’s practice.
Here are the top plays from the Bears’ first minicamp practice.
7 on 7s
Justin Fields started the 7 on 7 portion of practice with some checkdown completions after he couldn’t find or was unwilling to take a risk downfield or because the defense forced the throw. He completed two passes to Equanimeous St. Brown in the flat and then found Dante Pettis for a short gain on the left side.
In Fields’ second attempt in 7 on 7s, he completed a pass to D’Onta Foreman for a small gain.
Later, Field lofted a pass just outside of Tremaine Edmunds’ reach and connected with Robert Tonyan. On that same play, Cole Kmet was running open down the middle of the field. Obviously there is no telling what Fields’ progressions were on the play, but Kmet was open for a bigger play downfield.
Jaylon Johnson broke up a Fields pass intended for Tyler Scott. Johnson had good coverage on Scott through the entirety of the route. On this play, it looked like there was an opportunity to hit Nsimba Webster for a big gain in the middle of the field.
Tonyan had a ball bounce off his hands as he ran across the field. The ball was a little low, but still plenty high enough for a run-and-catch opportunity.
Fields connected with Moore again later in the session with Johnson in coverage. The ball was thrown high and Moore went up to make the catch for a 5-yard gain.
After being relatively quiet for a majority of 7 on 7s, Velus Jones Jr. ended the period with back-to-back catches. One was against Tyrique Stevenson and the other catch occurred on an intermediate route in the middle of the field.
Team Portion of Practice
Wednesday’s team portion of practice improved over Tuesday’s, especially in the situational period. With 1:40 left remaining on the close, the Bears lined up in their own territory down 21-20. Fields started the drive with a completion to Trestan Ebner. Then Fields completed a pass to Cole Kmet in the middle of the field for a good chunk. The QB-TE duo could’ve had another big connection, but Fields overthrew the pass toward the left side. Fields had a scramble to the left side and another completion to Ebner before sealing the victory for the Bears’ offense. Fields recognized that Moore was being covered by Kindle Vildor and Moore had a step on the Bears’ cornerback. Fields threw the ball downfield and Vildor was flagged for pass interference, which set up the game-winning field.
In an earlier portion of the team drills, Fields did connect with Kmet near the left side of the field despite Johnson being in really good coverage on the play. It was surprising that Johnson didn’t make a play on the ball.
Kyler Gordon was in the right spot at the right time on a Fields pass intended for Jones. Fields attempted to extend the play by moving left and threw the pass in Jones’ direction. The ball was behind the receiver and hit Gordon in the helmet. The ball ricocheted in the air and was nearly caught by Travis Homer.
Tyrique Stevenson started with the first-string defense to begin practice.
The Bears practiced on two fields, with one being for the starters and the other the backups. Michael Ojemudia spent most of his time on the starters side and filled in when Stevenson was on defense.
On a Justin Fields quarterback run, Fields ran right and started to go up the right sideline. Even though the play was practically over, Gervon Dexter sprinted downfield in Fields’ direction. Great hustle from the 6-foot-6, 312-pound defensive lineman.
For the Bears’ starting offensive line, Cody Whitehair got a majority of the snaps at center, but Lucas Patrick also filled in at times.
For the backup offensive line groupings, here is what I charted down. With Nathan Peterman as the third-string quarterback, Kellen Diesch lined up at LT, Alex Leatherwood at LG, Dieter Eiselen at C, Ja’Tyre Carter at RG and Larry Borom at RT.
The fourth-string unit with Tyson Bagent had Eiselen at LG for Leatherwood and Doug Kramer at C.
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