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Good morning! I got to watch some almost-real football yesterday in Lake Forest.
Here’s what I saw and heard:
The good: It was a very good first practice for Justin Fields and the offense on Wednesday. There were very few balls on the ground and the strong connection with DJ Moore continued. Fields hit Moore on a beautiful deep touchdown pass to the front pylon, while Moore used his veteran savvy to create just enough space on the sideline against rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson. Head coach Matt Eberflus pointed out that the first day can often be sloppy for the offense, but it really wasn’t. It was a mostly clean day, with one exception I’ll get to below…
The bad: The weather. Any pre-practice excitement was ruined by the area’s poor air quality that pushed practice inside before a massive lightning storm hit the area. As for practice itself, I didn’t like seeing wide receivers Joe Reed and Nsimba Webster put the ball on the ground after making red zone catches. If there’s anything to improve on in Day 2, it’s that.
- Cole Kmet’s four-year, $50 million contract extension is a win for both sides. His value to the Bears goes well beyond his stats, which are good enough on their own. My comp for Kmet has always been Kyle Rudolph, and he’s well on his way to a similar career. Rudolph was also the No. 43 overall pick in the draft and spent 10 years with the Vikings before moving on to the Giants and Bucs. Kmet is going to be a Bear for a long time.
- Darnell Mooney revealed that he was headed toward tightrope surgery on his left ankle last year anyway — breaking the ankle just ended his season early and made the recovery tougher. Mooney looked pretty good during Wednesday’s practice, as he received limited reps in 7-on-7 periods.
- Chase Claypool also looked pretty comfortable in Wednesday’s practice, despite a brief stint on the PUP list earlier in the week. His press conference with us was very interesting, as he fought back against any criticism of his work ethic, saying: “It’s the biggest year of my life, and I understand that. If anybody thinks my work ethic isn’t matching that, they’re deeply mistaken.”
For more on the Claypool conversation, we discussed it on Wednesday’s practice recap show on CHGO.
Up Next: The Bears are back on the practice field this morning at 10 a.m. and it will feel more like training camp with fans in the stands and hot, humid temperatures. You won’t hear any complaints from me!
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