The Bears are six days away from their season opener, but team captains have yet to be named. On Monday, coach Matt Eberflus told reporters he will announce the captains on Wednesday.
Eberflus will name four players as season-long captains, then have an honorary captain that rotates each week.
Preparing for San Francisco: Eberflus is ready to see his team tested this Sunday against a "very good football team" in the 49ers. While the Bears had a short practice on Monday, they will work on first and second downs on Wednesday, third down on Thursday and red zone on Friday.
One of the challenges this week will be preparing the defense for 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. Eberflus will bring in different players for the scout team that can mimic the rushing capabilities of Lance.
While Eberflus has a good understanding of what San Francisco's offense will look like, there's still some unknowns about how they will use Lance.
"You're projecting a little bit. You have to project how they're going to use the young man and where they're going to use him in their offense," Eberflus said. "We certainly have an idea of what the offense looks like. But how they're going to use him, no one really knows. You're going to use your rules and have your calls and make sure you're sound [and know] what you're doing."
Handling new faces: General manager Ryan Poles made the most waiver claims of any NFL team last week, picking up seven players after final cuts. While Eberflus knows the number of new players is high, he said it's normal in a GM's first season with a team. He's confident the coaches will be able to help the seven new players catch up quickly.
"It's up to the coaches and the players to get that partnership that we always talk about," Eberflus said. Those guys have to do it together. And they've already been working. And they're going to continue to work to get those guys up to speed as fast as possible."
Eberflus is also leaning on defensive end Robert Quinn to help the newcomers get acclimated to the organization. The coach said Quinn is an "invaluable" part of the team who likes answering the young players' questions and has a unique presence in the locker room.
"You ever felt it when a guy walks into the room, you're like, 'wow, that guy.' That's presence, right?" Eberflus said. "He has that about him and he doesn't have to say a lot. He just walks in the room and people respect him for what he's done, his accomplishments, the career he's had in the NFL and what he's done for the Bears. So I think that gives him credence right there when he walks in the room."
Check out when the Bears will wear each of their five uniform combinations throughout the 2022 season, including four different jerseys and the team's new orange alternate helmet.
Adding to receiver room: The final player Poles acquired last week was receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, a fifth-round draft selection by the Vikings in 2021.
Smith-Marsette believes coming to Chicago was "meant to be," as his best game last year was the Bears' season finale against Minnesota, where he recorded three receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown.
The receiver is excited about his potential in the Bears' offense and the opportunity to play with quarterback Justin Fields. Smith-Marsette said Fields "can keep a play going and find me late" and can make "beautiful throws." He believes his game can complement Fields' abilities and vice versa.
Smith-Marsette is confident he will pick up the offense quickly and be ready to add to the receiver room quickly. As a new player, he is excited about the chance to work and become a playmaker for the Bears.
"I feel like I've got an opportunity to make an impact anywhere I go," Smith-Marsette said. "That's just the type of player I am. That's my mindset. I feel like I can make a play on any team in this league. I feel like I can play in this league, and I feel like I belong in this league. So anywhere I would've went, I would've made a tremendous impact."
The second-year receiver is also eager to play on special teams. Smith-Marsette played four years at Iowa before being drafted and was a staple in the return game. He recorded 1,520 kickoff returns yards and two touchdowns with the Hawkeyes. Eberflus said the Bears will use Smith-Marsette wherever they see fit.
"On special teams, I think you look at the whole gamut of it," Eberflus said. "Can he help you on cover teams, can he help you on returns, can he help you at well, obviously, receiver? So, you look at it all."