The Bears take the field for the first time under coach Matt Eberflus and his staff at minicamp on Tuesday and it’s sure to have a high attendance rate even if it is voluntary.
The first time with a new staff and new offense and defense tend to convince some veterans to participate who might otherwise be recluctant to take part in two minicamps during one offseason.
Players like Roquan Smith and David Montgomery would be the best bets for not attending because they lack contracts beyond 2022 and need extensions, but the fact they are under contract for 2022 could be enough to keep them in tow. Besides, these are two players who have team-first attitudes.
What won’t happen is physical hitting or even pads. It’s basically guys in shorts and helmets, so gaining any type of insight on linemen is limited.
This is one of eight early voluntary veteran minicamps being conducted in the league and runs through Thursday. Players do not pad up and there is no contact allowed.
Here’s what the Bears will get out of these minicamp sessions, which will be held at 1:15 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, then at 10:30 am on Thursday.
1. Offense and Defense Install:
They have seen the plans in meetings for their offenses and defenses but they’ll see it actually take place on the field in these practices. It’s a critical time for the Bears because they are using a defense drastically different than the old one. They’re going from a 3-4 with two-gap assignments on the front end to a 4-3 where each player is responsible for a single gap. The offense uses a different base blocking scheme, the wide zone. They had been basically inside zone under Matt Nagy. The Bears are going to have OTA workouts on the field in late May and June. It’s best if the veterans all arrive knowing the offense and defense well so the coaches do not have to make sure the full roster is working at this. Keeping the rookies up on what’s going on then is difficult enough.
2. Looking at the Fit:
The roster is full of players who fit the old style of play but may or may not be fits for this new stype of offense and defense. Examples on defense are interior linemen Angelo Blackson, Khyiris Tonga and Auzoyah Alufohai. Where does a 262-pound edge rusher like Jeremiah Attaochu fit now, defensive end or off-ball linebacker or out the door? Do some players line up in different positions because they fit differently in this scheme on defense?
They’ll get a better gauge of these bigger players who weren’t necessarily here for their speed and explosiveness attacking between offensive linemen in a gap.
There is no real contact in these drills, but the minicamp will let the coaches look at quickness off the snap and also see where they are in conditioning. They’ve been working at this the last two weeks together and before that on their own to try and become lighter and fasterr for the new offensive and defensive schemes. Those who do not show progress also could be out on the street.
Another player who will get scrutinized is punter Ryan Winslow. Is he a viable replacement for new Packers punter Pat O’Donnell, or will they need to add someone in the draft or some form of free agency? They could get a very good idea of this because there are few restrictions on what they can see from a punter.
3. Personnel Department Gauge:
After the signing of tight end James O’Shaughnessy on Monday, they were at 61 players for the roster. They’re still 29 short of the limit for trainging camp. The draft and undrafted free agents can not fill all of those spots. They’re going to get a better idea of how many street free agents and undrafted free agents they’ll need to add, plus which players on the roster already might need to be replaced by another free agent.
4. Displaying Proper Skill Sets:
It’s not easy to see much from linemen beyond quickness with non-contact work. But at veteran voluntary minicamps the offense can not run plays against a defense offering resistance and vice versa. All of this changes by training camp. However, receivers can run pass patterns and defensive backs can provided coverage. So the coaches will get a better idea of whether their veteran cornerbacks like Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley can fit into the cover-2 style. They might see enough quickness to the ball that they do not see a need to commit heavily to a defensive back’s position in the draft. Or they could see how some receivers are better suited for slot or on the outside.
5. Justin Fields Fundamentals:
One of the key perceived issues with their second-year quarterback is how he drops his arm down and has the ball held out before trying to put zip on the ball. The coaches tried correcting this last year to some extent.
Scroll to Continue:
Now it’s quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy looking at his fundamentals to correct these perceived flaws, if there really are any.
Twitter: BearDigest @ BearsOnMaven: