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And just like that, Bears rookie minicamp is done.
For a majority of the 69 players at Halas Hall this weekend, Sunday was most likely their last opportunity to practice for an NFL team. For a few others, their journeys in the league are just beginning.
Here are a few things that stood out from the three practices.
Kyler Gordon is athletic
There is only so much you can get from rookie minicamp. The players are in a helmet and shorts, and the competition is mostly comprised of players that will not be on an NFL roster a week from now.
Still, it didn’t take long to see the type of athlete that the Bears selected with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In routine backpedaling drills, where the cornerbacks would go back in a straight line roughly five yards and break at a 45-degree angle when signaled by a coach, Gordon moved with precise technique and quickness.
He didn’t take unnecessary steps, never got stuck in his backpedal and generated force out of his breaks. And that was consistent throughout the entire first practice on Friday.
During a drill where the cornerback would jam the wide receiver and then turn and run to locate the ball down the left sideline, Gordon showed off his 39 ½-inch vertical and body control when he high-pointed the football.
The only thing that stopped Gordon from continuing to display his athleticism were the cramps he had during the 7-on-7 period, which then limited him for the rest of the practice.
On Day 2, though, Gordon was back and showing off that vertical.
Gordon didn’t fully participate in Sunday’s practice, but I saw enough to see why the Bears drafted him No. 39 overall.
And maybe I’m making too much of Gordon’s rookie minicamp, but on the other hand, the 22-year-old didn’t show any signs that being a pro was too much for him. He was general manger Ryan Poles’ first pick, which naturally puts the spotlight on him, and still he performed each drill like he was back on Washington’s campus. When he got the cramps on Day 1, he worked on the sideline with a trainer so he could get back into the practice.
Despite this being such a small sample size, sometimes you can just tell when a player has potential.
Needless to say, I will be looking forward to seeing how Gordon does when the pads go on during training camp.
Vocal and detail-oriented Bears coaching staff
David Overstreet II and Tyke Tolbert are in their first season with the Bears.
Overstreet – the assistant defensive backs coach – came from Indianapolis where he was in the same role for the last four seasons. Tolbert, who is the wide receivers coach in addition to the team’s pass game coordinator, has been coaching for 19 years in the NFL and spent the last four seasons with the New York Giants as their receivers coach.
With 69 players ranging from draft picks to undrafted free agents to tryout players, Overstreet and Tolbert coached their respective units all the same and did so with an edge.
On Day 1 of rookie minicamp, Overstreet’s voice could easily be heard over the music playing in the Walter Payton Center. He preached to the cornerbacks to “finish every drill full speed.” When Overstreet had his unit work on punching the football out and recovering it, the fifth-year coach said to do it “Like Peanut,” which of course meant Charles Tillman.
If a player dropped a potential interception, that also meant the defensive backs were losing out on money – according to Overstreet.
Tolbert operates in a fairly similar way. Despite being 54 years old, the veteran coach has arguably the most energy out of the entire coaching staff on the Bears.
Matt Eberflus has mentioned before that coaches are teachers. Overstreet and Tolbert highlighted in this rookie minicamp the thoroughness this coaching staff will implement to ensure the players know their assignments.
And that level of detail and commitment should only intensify from the entire coaching staff once the rest of the team returns for OTAs.
Players who stood out
Outside of the 11 draft picks, a lot of the players on the rookie minicamp roster were guys I didn’t have much knowledge about.
So, here are a few players that caught my attention throughout the three days.
- CB Allie Green IV, Missouri – If you are a CHGO member, you would’ve had access to my takeaways from Day 1. In there I highlighted Green as someone who got the starting reps opposite of Gordon. He also was someone who Eberflus is apparently keeping his eye on. But Green continued to be the first man to play as the outside corner in the remaining two practices. He also had an impressive rep against Velus Jones Jr. in the 7-on-7 portion – locking down the third-round draft pick on the play.
- WR Chris Finke, Chiefs – The defense definitely had the advantage and played better during rookie minicamp. There were plenty of plays that resulted in takeaways, batted footballs at the line of scrimmage or incomplete passes. However, on Days 2 and 3, Finke was the recipient of a lot of the plays that ended up being successful. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound receiver was claimed off waivers on May 4 from the Chiefs.
- RB Maurice Burkley, Louisville – For the final two days of practice, the running backs did their individual drills closest to where the media stood. So, we got a good look at the five players participating in rookie minicamp: De’Montre Tuggle, Trestan Ebner, Master Teague, Timothy McCloyn and Burkley. Through the various drills involving making jump cuts at sets of cones, reading the correct hole to run through and other agility exercises, Burkley was the most consistent. He displayed clean footwork and ended up leading the drills about halfway through the individual period on Day 2 – taking Ebner’s spot. The Naperville native finished his final season with the Cardinals with 22 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown.
- LB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin – Another player that got the first opportunity to start since Day 1 was Sanborn. The 6-foot-2, 234-pound linebacker manned the interior of the defense in team and got the first reps on Day 3 in the 7-on-7 portion. The Lake Zurich native played in 32 games at Wisconsin and made 21 starts for the Badgers.
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