Justin Fields made a positive first impression in his first NFL practice Friday as the Bears kicked off their rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.
It was hardly a surprising development given the résumé and reputation the first-round draft pick forged the past two years at Ohio State, where he quarterbacked the Buckeyes to a 20-2 record and back-to-back appearances in the College Football Playoff.
"I think that he had really good command of just going from play call in the headset, walking into the huddle, calling the play, everyone breaking at the same time and then having that first wide vision," said coach Matt Nagy, who watched Friday's practice from home because he's a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
"His mechanics were really good. I thought he seemed super calm. A lot of times in these camps, things seem a thousand miles per hour and it didn't seem that way from where I was."
Fields exuded confidence, conviction and maturity both during practice and on a Zoom call with the media a couple hours before the workout. The 22-year-old explained that rather than looking too far down the road, he was instead focusing on "each day, each period, each play, on just perfecting that play and getting better."
"My short-term goals are just to be crisp with the huddle call," Fields said, "making sure I'm precise with my reads and stuff like that and really taking command of the huddle and show the guys out there that I am leading the offense. That's pretty much the list of short-term goals I have down for this weekend."
Since being drafted by the Bears, Fields has been studying the playbook and meeting via Zoom with Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Fields takes notes and quizzes himself by drawing formations on 5" X 7" flashcards.
"If you want to be great at something, you have to work hard at it," Fields said. "I want to be great at learning this playbook, so I'm going to work hard at it, of course.
"As time goes along, I'll be getting more used to the playbook. I'll eventually know it like the back of my hand. It's just going to come with time."
Fields demonstrated that he already possesses a grasp of the playbook Friday when he explained to a receiver, after a play, a route adjustment that needed to be made based on the pass coverage.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Nagy said, "that already on Day 1 Justin was going over and in a coachable and teachable way was explaining to that player, 'Hey, they changed rotation-wise. Next time that happens, you have to run this route instead of that route.' Day 1, that's pretty good."
Fields said that the complexity of the Bears offense is similar to the one he operated at Ohio State, but there is one noticeable difference.
"At Ohio State, we did signals from the sidelines, so actually getting in the huddle and calling the play out is the only different thing," Fields said. "Everything else is pretty much the same when it comes to concepts and stuff like that."
“As time goes along, I’ll be getting more used to the playbook. I’ll eventually know it like the back of my hand.” Bears rookie QB Justin Fields
Leading into the minicamp, Bears coaches talked about wanting to see Fields command the huddle.
"It's just calling the play call with confidence," Fields said, "having a loud voice and just really taking control over the whole offense and really showing your teammates and the people who are out there on the field with you that you're the guy out there; that you have full confidence not only in yourself but in your teammates.
"Even if you make a mistake, you make it at full speed. I think that's a couple ways to show that you're the guy out there and you're doing all you can to get better."
33 players, including the Bears' 2021 draft class, hit the practice fields at Halas Hall Friday afternoon for the first day of rookie minicamp.