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Caleb Williams, Bears teammates to keep bonding during time off


The Bears concluded their offseason program Wednesday with a short rookies-only OTA practice at Halas Hall. But that doesn't mean that players won't continue to strengthen their rapport during their time off this summer.

"All of us will be getting together," said rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. "We actually were all texting last night in the group chat trying to figure out where exactly we want to be in the world; where we're going to be throwing, working out, and bonding and things like that."

“Everything’s different when you’re out there playing for each other and not out there playing for yourself.” Bears QB Caleb Williams

Williams revealed that Bears players on both sides of the ball intend to work out and spend time together in California or Florida before they reconvene in mid-July for the start of training camp.

Since being selected with the first overall pick in the draft, Williams has made steady strides while continuing to gain a firmer grasp of the offense. However, he feels that his biggest accomplishment this offseason was "building the connection with my teammates and those relationships."

Williams is convinced that the chemistry Bears players have developed not only at Halas Hall but during excursions to sporting events, dinners, movies and Topgolf is paramount to team success.

"It means the world," he said. "Everything's about the bond and the trust that you build between each other because then you go out there and your mentality's different. Everything's different when you're out there playing for each other and not out there playing for yourself.

"Everyone's treated with respect and love and care, but also pushing each other to be at our best. That's where the connection comes from because you can't build something pretty special at the end of the year without that bond, love and trust for your brothers."

Take a look at Bears players and coaches hitting the links at The Club Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis. for the annual team bonding event.

Williams has believed in that credo since he was a teenager.

"It was something that my high school coach really pushed us to be a part of and really believe in and trust," he said. "I've taken those with me; the little, small things, pieces that he's given me, and I've tried to implement it in any way possible throughout my years of playing, being around my teammates, working hard, pushing each other."

QB's development has been 'outstanding'

The Bears worked hard to put Williams in position to succeed. When he arrived at rookie minicamp in May two weeks after the draft, the former USC standout had already been introduced to the offense—including terminology and concepts—during his top-30 visit to Halas Hall and had worked out with receivers DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. The Bears also helped Williams prepare by collaborating with his private quarterback coach, Will Hewlitt.

"The development of Caleb in terms of what he's gotten to do this offseason has been outstanding," said coach Matt Eberflus, "taking him from knowing just a little bit about the scheme from that Pro Day at USC all the way to where he is now and it's really good. He's been able to really refine his understanding of the scheme."

First-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron told reporters that working with Williams during the offseason confirmed "a lot of the things that we gathered during the draft process: his competitive nature, his willingness to learn, his desire to know 'the why' on everything that is happening so that he's not just out there robotic trying to just run a play; he's out there really learning it, really understanding it."

Williams has enjoyed working with Waldron, a veteran NFL assistant who spent the past three seasons as Seahawks offensive coordinator. In Seattle, he helped quarterback Geno Smith resurrect his career, earning his first Pro Bowl invitation and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

"It's been great," Williams said. "We've been growing together, figuring out what works best for us … That's one of the most, if not the most, important relationship on the coaching staff and throughout this team for me to have is my OC and for us to be on the same page throughout this process and growing and learning from that … When it's third down in a big game and I've got to flip the protection, I've got to do this and that, we've been through these situations to be able to do that; we're on the same page so we can be able to go and win big ballgames."

Determination and dedication

During the next month, Williams and his teammates will rest and spend time with their families—but also prepare for training camp.

"We've got a lot of work to do in the summertime," Eberflus said. "My point to the rookies was simple: Where we're at right now is a place where we can't be. We've got to be at a level up. We've got to level up two spots in those four weeks in the preparation; being able to say the call, see it in your mind and then go and execute it.

"And that could be drawing it in the summer. It could be actually executing it if [Williams] has got guys out there doing it with him. And then owning it. That's the biggest thing, the biggest step we've got to take with Caleb and also with the rest of the offense.

"And defensive guys, too, because the separation in the NFL is in our preparation. Everybody says they want to be a winner, and no one wants to be a loser. Well, you've got to put the time in to be a winner, and that takes focus, attention to detail and it takes determination and dedication."

Go back to school to check out who and when the Bears will play this season.