Bears position coaches spoke to the media Monday at Halas Hall. Here are five things we learned from those sessions:
(1) Receivers coach Mike Furrey, a former NFL player, said that he's never been around a faster group of receivers than the Bears have.
The team on Monday announced the signing of Breshad Perriman, who joined fellow speedsters Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin and Darnell Mooney on the practice field for the first time.
"I think it's probably pretty rare for anybody to have three guys listed at 4.2, a legit 4.2," Furrey said. "I saw Breshad opened up a little bit out there today, and talking to some of my friends around the league that have coached him, the speed is real. And so to have those guys in Mooney and those other guys that can run in that room, the scout team and those regular guys, there's a lot of speed out there."
Most of that speed has been added this year. While Mooney returns for a second season after a breakout rookie year, Byrd and Goodwin were both signed during the offseason. Perriman was added after being released by the Lions last Monday.
Furrey believes that the key to getting the most out of fast receivers is to keep things simple.
"The main thing just from my experience of being around guys is just don't confuse them," Furrey said. "Let them play, let them feel comfortable and let them play as fast as they possibly can. When they start thinking too much—where to line up, all those kinds of things—it slows you down, it slows everybody down, and if you slow that trait down, now you've just got an average guy out there that can run.
"So, I think it's just putting them in situations where they feel free and they feel comfortable and let them go play."
*(2) Offensive line coach Juan Castillo is "pretty confident" that veteran left tackle Jason Peters will be ready to start Sunday night's opener against the Rams. *
An 18-year NFL veteran, Peters signed with the Bears Aug. 16 and played the first half of the Aug. 28 preseason finale versus the Titans.
"Jason always takes care of his body," said Castillo, who was Peters' position coach with the Eagles in 2009-10. "He's a big man. When he played for me [in Philadelphia], he played at 352 pounds. He's ready to go. He's been working a lot. He's been taking a lot of the reps. He's ready to go and excited to go."
Castillo praised Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, for the dedication and determination he has displayed since joining the Bears.
"He's also done extra work," Castillo said. "One thing that he's been doing is he takes reps like a stack, a 10-play stack. We've gotten all the way up to 55, 60 plays. So, he's already kind of conditioned himself, because that was the thing he knew that he needed to work on, and I feel good about that.
"I know Jason pretty good. I know from watching him. I feel pretty confident that he's ready. He's good for the group and he's excited. He knows now how special it is or how privileged it is to play, so what he's doing is besides working his butt off, he's really enjoying this. And all the other guys are seeing how hard he works. Even though he's already been in the league—I think this is his 18th year—he's still working as hard or harder than everybody else."
*(3) The Bears are hoping that second-year outside linebacker Trevis Gipson can carry an impressive preseason performance into the regular season. *
Showing his pass rushing skills, Gipson created two takeaways—and should have had a third. His strip/sack of Bills quarterback Davis Webb resulted in a fumble that linebacker Caleb Johnson recovered.
A week later, Gipson burst off the edge and hit Titans quarterback Logan Woodside's arm as he threw downfield. The pass fluttered to cornerback Tre Roberson, who returned the interception 27 yards for a touchdown. Gipson made a similar play later in the game, but linebacker Josh Woods dropped a sure pick.
"It's going to be a step up in the level of competition, and [Gipson] is aware of that," said outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey. "Trevis has taken a bunch of strides mentally in terms of his preparation, his professionalism, his approach to the game.
"He knows that he needs to have a plan for his opportunities because they are likely to be limited. So when he does get an opportunity, he wants to make the most of it. He can't go in there and just wing it when those opportunities present [themselves]. He has to be calculated so when he goes in and gets those opportunities, he'll be ready to go."
Gipson was selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Tulsa. He was converted from a college defensive end to an NFL outside linebacker, a transition that wasn't easy because all offseason practices and the entire preseason were cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
Gipson gained experience from playing seven games as a rookie and added 5-7 pounds of lean muscle mass in the weight room during the offseason. The Bears are confident that he'll continue to ascend as he earns more playing time.
"The lack of offseason last year and those types of things, it all plays in," Shuey said. "I think for him, it's been just the reps themselves. That's been a very positive thing for a guy like him because he was a very raw prospect coming in. He still has a long way to go and he knows that, but at least there are certain things now that he's doing more naturally, and so that's always been the progression."