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Training Camp Report

5 things we learned from Bears offensive coaches


Bears offensive position coaches spoke to the media Tuesday at Halas Hall. Here are five things we learned from those sessions:

(1) Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko feels that second-year pro Justin Fields possesses the determination and leadership to excel.

"His drive, his mental makeup, what he wants out of his career, what he wants for this team, what he wants for this organization and this city, I think he cares about all of that," Janocko said. "Just seeing his daily preparation, when you go in there in the morning, he's in the meeting room. He usually beats me into the meeting room every morning and he's ready to go. He's prepared the night before. That's the proof you need to see from a player that has that drive to carry his team."

While Bears coaches praise Fields for what he does well, they also work with him on what he needs to improve.

"He loves it," Janocko said. "I mean, you talk about a guy that just loves football and wants to be great and wants to elevate everybody around him. It's pretty impressive."

(2) Running backs coach David Walker continues to be impressed with second-year pro Khalil Herbert, who rushed for 433 yards last season as a rookie.

The sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech especially excelled last year when starter David Montgomery was sidelined. In four games as the Bears' primary ballcarrier from Weeks 5-8, Herbert rushed for 344 yards, the fourth most by an NFL running back during that span.

"He showed last year and he's continuing to show that he can be a guy that can be productive in this league," Walker said. "He can do things inside the tackles, he's got burst and speed where he can make plays outside the tackles. I think he's a nice complement to a guy like David. We've got a group of other guys coming along to see where their roles are going to be, but I think Khalil has a nice skillset and it's a nice complement to what David brings."

(3) Receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was pleased with how receiver Tajae Sharpe took advantage of expanded playing time in last Saturday's preseason-opening win over the Chiefs.

With receivers Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry and Velus Jones Jr. unable to play due to injuries, Sharpe started the game at Soldier Field and caught two passes for 44 yards in the Bears' 19-14 victory, including a tremendous one-handed 19-yard reception along the sideline from Fields.

Sharpe signed with the Bears in May after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Titans (2016-19), Vikings (2020) and Falcons (2021), catching 117 passes for 1,397 yards and eight touchdowns.

"Smart guy," Tolbert said. "He knows the offense well. He can play any position. We have him more on the outside, X and Z. He has some vet savviness to him, kind of knows what defenses are going to do to him sometimes. [He's] one of the most experienced guys in the room. He's been in NFL games before, made NFL plays before, scored NFL touchdowns before, so he knows how to go in there and play."

(4) Tolbert was happy to see second-year pro Dazz Newsome make amends for a mistake on special teams with a 13-yard TD reception against Kansas City.

Newsome muffed a punt and then made a bad situation worse by losing 10 yards after scooping up the loose ball. Despite the early miscue, Bears coaches were eager to give the 2021 sixth-round pick from North Carolina more opportunities to display his skills.

"You're showing that you have confidence in him," Tolbert said. "Everybody makes mistakes. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. It's the next play up. You have to be able to go onto the next play. We want to show him that we have the confidence in him for him to make some plays, and he did. He responded well to that little bit of adversity he had on that punt in the game. We're glad to see that."

(5) Offensive line coach Chris Morgan lauded Sam Mustipher for how he has seamlessly moved back from guard to center.

After starting all 17 games at center last season, Mustipher shifted to right guard this year after the Bears signed free agent Lucas Patrick to be their center. But when Patrick injured his right hand July 29 in practice, Mustipher returned to his original position and has helped anchor the offensive line ever since.

"Sam's done everything we've asked," Morgan said. "Sam is a tough, smart, hard-nosed productive football player and he's doing a great job as a leader. He's got valuable game experience, and he's just trying to get better every day. Keep learning to master the system, master the calls and bring guys with him. He's done a nice job so far."

The Bears hit the fields at Halas Hall for their final practice before heading to Seattle to take on the Seahawks Thursday night in their second preseason game.

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