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Eric Washington lauds DJ Moore's run-after-catch ability | Quick Hits


Eric Washington is enjoying his reunion with DJ Moore.

The Bears' first-year defensive coordinator served in the same role with the Carolina Panthers during the star receiver's first two NFL seasons in 2018-19.

After catching 55 passes for 788 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, Moore recorded the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons in his second year in the league, catching 87 passes for 1,175 yards and four TDs.

Washington is especially impressed with Moore's run-after-catch ability.

"He turns into a running back once he possesses the football," Washington said. "He's very dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands. You have to do a great job of not letting him catch the ball and then just doing a good job being really efficient as far as your tackling is concerned."

Moore demonstrated that ability last year in his first season with the Bears. After being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Panthers, he established career highs in all receiving categories with 96 receptions, 1,364 yards and eight TDs.

Moore preps for starring role

Moore's off-the-field preparation this offseason extended beyond football. Before starring in the Bears' schedule release video that paid homage to movies filmed in Chicago, he watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" twice to "see how to play Ferris."

Asked what grade he'd give his acting skills, Moore said: "Probably a B+. It was a good job, right? It was fun. I was pretty excited to see the final product."

Bears defense will challenge Williams

The Bears defense excelled last season and hopes to be even better this year. Facing the opportunistic unit in practice should benefit rookie first-round draft pick Caleb Williams, who has already been named the team's starting quarterback.

"We like to think that that will be a byproduct of his growth and development," Washington said, "just having to go against some of the exceptional, seasoned players that we have on the line of scrimmage and in our back seven. We all have a vested interest in wanting to see that young man grow and become battle tested and be ready on Day 1. We're going to give him everything that we have every day."

Standing out in OTAs

The Bears won't practice in pads until training camp in July, but young players can still impress in non-contact workouts.

One rookie who has an opportunity to do so is fifth-round pick Austin Booker, a defensive end from Kansas. Asked what he wants to see from Booker during OTAs, Washington said: "The first thing is execution. As we start to install this defensive package, he needs to get lined up and just execute—and do that with a lot of speed, quickness and velocity."

Washington also would like to see Booker understand how to set up the player he's rushing against and put himself in position to counter and get to the quarterback.

"The assignment piece right now for him is big because if he's thinking or processing, that's not helping us," Washington said. "So as we continue to install this package, I want to see him process the call very, very quickly, get lined up and then explode when the ball is snapped."

Byard excited to face former team

After spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, safety Kevin Byard III will play his first game with the Bears against his former team Sept. 8 in the season opener at Soldier Field.

"It's funny, man," Byard said. "The football gods have a way of working things out. It's going to be exciting to see all my old teammates, talking to a lot of guys pre-game and stuff."

Byard signed with the Bears in March. With the Titans, he was chosen first-team All-Pro and voted to the Pro Bowl in 2017 when he led the NFL with a career-high eight interceptions and again in 2021 when he picked off five passes.

Byard was traded to the Eagles last Oct. 23 in exchange for 2024 fifth- and sixth-round picks and safety Terrell Edmunds, the brother of Bears middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Byard was released by Philadelphia March 1.

With Brian Callahan replacing Mike Vrabel as Titans coach, Byard doesn't know most of the new staff and doesn't want to make the Week 1 game about himself.

"It's really just the Chicago Bears against the Tennessee Titans," Byard said. "It's going to be good to play at home the first game. It's going to be a really good test for us. Like I said, I know some of the guys over there personnel-wise, and I think both teams are hungry and wanting to try to turn the page from last year, so it's going to be an exciting matchup."

Take a look at the Bears hitting the Halas Hall practice fields during the first week of Organized Team Activities.

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