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Top takeaways from Day 1 of rookie Chicago Bears minicamp

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
May 10, 2024

LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears held their first practice of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on Friday afternoon.

For a majority of the practice, the sun was shinning over practice fields three and four. The Bears had 43 total players listed on their rookie minicamp roster — five draft picks, 24 rookie tryout players, nine undrafted free agents, three veteran tryout players and two future reserve contract players.

Here are the top takeaways from Day 1 of Bears rookie minicamp.

Accuracy on point

Caleb Williams’ ability to throw a spiral should be featured in a how-to-video for beginners just learning about the quarterback position. He consistently throws accurate passes and does so effortlessly. Whether it’s a slant, a pass to the flat or on vertical routes during individual drills, nearly every pass was put where it needed to be.

Williams had two passes during 7-on-7s that perfectly highlighted his timing and accuracy. The first pass was a perfectly thrown ball on a seam route in the middle of the field. Williams’ pass went over the linebacker’s hands and hit tight end Shelton Zeon in his outstretched hands, but the rookie from UNLV couldn’t haul in the pass. Williams did his job on the play.

On the other throw, Williams targeted Odunze during 7-on-7s. The rookie wide receiver ran a dig route from the right side of the formation and caught the ball in stride in the middle of the field. The defensive back was trailing on the play, but the pass was in front of Odunze, who made a clean grab.

Williams did have one pass that was slightly behind his intended receiver. Tight end Brenden Bates ran a route over the middle of the field. Williams went through his progressions and tried to fit a ball into the small window that really wasn’t there. There were a few defenders in the area and the ball fell incomplete.

Williams and Odunze connection growing

Nobody caught more passes than Odunze on Day 1 of rookie minicamp. The No. 9 overall pick lined up out wide on both sides of the offensive formation and was featured in the slot. Every pass that was thrown his way during 7-on-7s was caught.

There was one rep in particular that displayed a glimpse of what can be a reoccurring result as Williams and Odunze grow within the offense together. During the 7-on-7 period, Williams got the snap out of the shotgun and surveyed his options. He didn’t find anyone initially open, so he extended the play by moving to his left. Odunze ran a stop route between the sideline and numbers, but started to drift when he saw his quarterback on the move. Williams kept his eyes downfield, found Odunze and connected with him for a completion.

It may just be one rep in a practice with no pads, but those are the types of plays that Williams and Odunze can continue to capitalize on as they continue to gain chemistry with each other. Williams was known for extending plays at USC, and it will be up to the receivers to adjust and ultimately get open so the quarterback can execute those off-schedule plays.

Amegadjie sidelined

Bears third-round draft pick Kiran Amedgadjie will have to wait until he makes his practice debut. Matt Eberflus shared an update on the offensive lineman out of Yale.

“Kiran is not practicing today,” Eberflus said. “So, he won’t be available to practice pretty much all through offseason. We knew about this injury, this quad injury that he had at his college, and we want to get that process in terms of the whole rehab and everything so he’s healthy for training camp so that’s where he’s going to be.”

Obviously, this isn’t ideal for Amegadjie, who only played four games in his last season at Yale. Even though this rookie minicamp is just in helmets and shorts, it would’ve allowed the 6-foot-5, 323-pound offensive lineman an opportunity to face a jump up in competition from the Ivy league.

Despite the setback, Amegadjie will still gain valuable mental reps by watching the practices and learning from the install meetings. He was on the practice field and engaged when the offensive linemen were participating in their individual drills. While the offensive linemen were repping out blocks, Amegadjie would mirror the movements off to the side.

Mixed punts from Taylor

Tory Taylor has an incredibly strong right leg. That was evident from the first practice. When he struck the ball the way he wanted to, the football easily had an average hang time of roughly five seconds.

A decent amount of Taylor’s punts would be categorized as well-executed. After one of Taylor’s better punts, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower went over and gave Taylor a high five. However, there were about four punts that the rookie would likely want back. While a majority of the team was stretching to start the practice, this was when Taylor had those misfired punts.

There is absolutely no reason to overact to this, but seeing how Taylor responds on Day 2 of practice will be something to monitor.

Other observations

  • Odunze and Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain were practicing punt returns in the beginning of practice.
  • Rookie quarterback Austin Reed from Western Kentucky threw an interception on his first throw in 7-on-7s. Reed’s pass went right through Troy wide receiver Marcus Rogers’ hands and was intercepted by Arkansas State defensive back Leon Jones.
  • Rookie fifth-round draft pick Austin Booker is lengthy. Just watching him stretch during warmups, it clear he has the frame to be a defensive end. He is currently listed as 6-foot-6, 245-pounds. Once he adds some more weight, he will really look the part as a hand-in-the dirt edge rusher.

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