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LAKE FOREST — The Bears held their second voluntary minicamp practice inside the Walter Payton Center on Wednesday. Coach Matt Eberflus said this was by design so the team can understand the logistics of the weather plan.
It’s only Day 2 of practice, but the Bears are making sure no detail is overlooked.
Instead of the offense being on one field and the defense on the other, the units came together and even competed on some 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s towards the end of practice.
Here are a few takeaways from Day 2 of Bears voluntary minicamp.
Roquan Smith Press Conference
Heading into his fifth season, Roquan Smith has set the bar on what he wants to accomplish in his fifth season in the NFL.
“My goal is to be the best linebacker in the league and best leader I can be for this team,” Smith said. “And I think if I do that, I’ll put us in a great situation to be a very good defense.”
Since Smith was drafted No. 8 overall in 2018, he has had over 100 total tackles in each season. Last season, he finished fifth in tackles with 163. Despite the consistent production, he has never been named to the Pro Bowl or been a first-team All pro.
Still, Smith is looking to improve his game, whether that is in route recognition, block protection or pass coverage. And Smith plans to work on those areas of his game in this voluntary minicamp, which he believes was important for him to attend.
“At the end of the day, and I will always be this way on me, I stand for what I believe in and my job and what I believe in is showing up and doing what I have to do,” Smith said. “I don’t focus on others or anything like that. I just know what I signed up for.”
So far, Smith’s impression on Ebeflus’ defense is that speed and running to the ball will be key focal points in this 4-3 scheme. One player that knows all about that is Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.
Smith said he has watched “a lot of film” on Leonard, but he has not contacted him because the two played in different defenses, and since Leonard has played in the 4-3 his entire career, it would be difficult to discuss the changes Smith would go through.
One of the changes that is still unknown is if Smith will play as the Will or Mike linebacker in this new defense. Smith, though, isn’t too concerned.
“I can play any position,” he said. “So, you know, what I’m playing we’ll let the coaches decide that.”
The other major topic Smith was asked about was his contract. Smith is entering the final year of his contract and is doing so without an agent, which isn’t new. However, the linebacker is confident things will get worked out and wants to be with the Bears long term.
David Montgomery Press Conference
Montgomery was fairly brief with his answers in his just over 10-minute press conference. But he did provide some insight before the Bears practiced on Day 2 of voluntary minicamp.
He shared what he has liked from Eberflus and his coaching style so far.
“I think change is always good,” Montgomery said. “So, I think coach Flus coming in and being who he is and the way he carries himself and the demeanor that he carries himself by, I appreciate. Like you said, change at times can be very refreshing. So, just seeing how he is and the kind of coach he is and the kind of energy, the enthusiasm he brings already, you know, I think it’s pretty dope to see.”
Although Montgomery acknowledged change can be a good thing, one of his more honest answers in the press conference happened when he was asked how he handles all the change that has occurred on the team since last season ended.
“It’s definitely new, just seeing a couple of my guys not being here,” he said. “It kind of puts you on the edge a little bit, like oh, is it a question that I’ll be here? Just being realistic about things.”
And for the most part, that is how Montgomery operates. Just being realistic and working on areas of his game will put him in a position to become successful.
This offseason, Montgomery focused on continuing to improve his speed, his awareness and just his overall understanding of defenses.
“Just learning different coverages, rotations, pressure and also understanding different things that the defensive line does,” Montgomery said. “Like, if he has his hand down or has another hand down, what does he do when he has that hand down?’ It’s just certain small things as you get throughout the league … I look at it like college. My first year was like 100-level classes. My second year 200-level classes. You always try to find ways to improve. But as I get older the game slows down. I want to be able to be sharper and more crisp at recognizing things at this point in my career.”
For a player that is entering the final year of his rookie contract, Montgomery didn’t appear to be too worried about it. He even joked about not knowing “what an extension” was. Still, the fourth-year running back from Iowa State is grateful for the opportunity he has been given.
“I’ve never been about proving anybody wrong,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always been about proving myself right because at the end of the day, when it comes down who you have trust in besides God, it’s got to be yourself. Because when I go home, and I look myself in the mirror, and I challenge myself on what I did good, or what I could do better, I gotta face that, I got to look that man in the mirror.
And when it’s all said and done, when I get done playing ball and the legacy that I leave and my kids grow to be who they be and see their dad for what they see him as, I want them to be remembered in a positive light and for their dad being who he say he is. …”
Quick Takeaways From Practice
- Eddie Jackson returned to practice after missing on Tuesday. Eberflus liked what he saw from his starting safety, saying that he looked quick, athletic and finished his drills well.
- Larry Borom stayed at left tackle while Teven Jenkins remained at right tackle. Eberflus mentioned it’s significant that the tackles are getting those first-team opportunities because they are “quality reps.”
- Sam Mustipher got the majority of reps at right guard, but Dakota Dozier also filled in at the position early in practice.
- The Bears did some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 today to end practice. The media was able to watch eight of the plays in the 7-on-7 period. Justin Fields completed six of those eight passes and had a nice ball to Cole Kmet on one play, and threw an accurate ball to Equanimeous St. Brown in the session.
- Here is what happened after one of those dropped passes in the 7-on-7 period.
- The entire offense was at practice except for quarterback Nick Foles, making this the second day he has missed.
- Cornerback Jaylon Johnson and defensive end Robert Quinn also missed their second-straight practice.
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