Early in offseason workouts, coach Matt Eberflus revealed that the Bears would experiment with players at different positions in practice. At the time, he cautioned against drawing any conclusions based on who lined up where.
Those trials continued in Wednesday's OTA session, with rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones taking reps with the starting unit at left tackle. The 6-5, 310-pounder joined the Bears after appearing in 34 games over five seasons at Southern Utah, where he was a two-time all-Big Sky selection.
"Braxton is a tough kid, very athletic," said veteran guard Cody Whitehair. "He's got really long arms as well. He's learning. As hard as that is to be thrown in the fire like that, I feel like he has responded well and [I'm] excited to see what he can bring."
Larry Borom, who had been practicing with the starting unit at left tackle, moved to right tackle Wednesday. He replaced fellow 2021 draft pick Teven Jenkins, who remained at that position with the second team.
"We're just trying to find the best combinations of people, especially when you're looking at the offensive line," Eberflus said. "Who's the best five guys out there so we can succeed? And it creates competition when you do that, when you're moving guys around. Who can function at different spots and who can really execute?"
Eberflus stressed that the Bears have been shifting players around at several positions, not just along the offensive line.
"We've moved some receivers around," he said. "Some guys are playing X. Some guys are playing Z. We've adjusted some guys on the defensive line just to really have a true evaluation of what's the best fit for us going into training camp. We might like the other combination. We might like this combination. We might not like either one of them.
"We'll figure out what the best thing is, and that's really just more information for the coaches to find out what's best for the Bears."
Better than ever: After having last week off, Bears players returned to Halas Hall Monday and had what Eberflus described as "our best practice."
"That's a tribute to them: the ability to focus and study over the break, come back on a Monday and then really do a great job of executing," Eberflus said. "The offense had an outstanding day on Monday. I think I counted 11 chunk passes and one chunk run during that day."
Eberflus praised the defense's performance in Wednesday's practice, saying that the unit "did a really nice job of executing" and "had a lot of nice plays on the ball" that included interceptions and pass breakups.
Cornering the market: After working with the second-team defense earlier in OTAs, third-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson was back with the first unit Wednesday.
"We just wanted to see where he was," Eberflus said. "He was in good shape when he came in and we were just assessing him where he was, and he's done a great job with that.
"He's learning the defense. It takes him a while to learn the defense because he just was coming in, so that takes a couple of days to figure [out]: 'What is this call? What is that call?' And he's done a great job. He played really good today, I thought."
Creating a culture: The Bears are scheduled to conduct their final OTA practice Thursday before concluding their offseason program next week with a mandatory three-day minicamp.
Asked what he's learned about his team during OTAs, Eberflus said: "I would just say they're really team-oriented guys. Excited about that. And the staff is the same. Guys are adjustable. They can move and adjust on the fly. Really smart. The attitude is outstanding. The togetherness … I can feel the team coming together. We've had great attendance, and I want to thank the players again for that because we're really starting to gel here and create the culture we want to create."