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New Bears Moore, Edmunds shine in OTA practice

Bears receiver DJ Moore and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds
Bears receiver DJ Moore and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

The Bears' most accomplished offseason additions on offense and defense both generated impact plays in Tuesday's OTA practice at Halas Hall.

In separate two-minute drills in the team's second of 10 OTA workouts this spring, receiver DJ Moore stretched out to haul in a perfectly thrown long pass from Justin Fields, and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds later intercepted a P.J. Walker pass.

Moore was acquired by the Bears from the Panthers along with four draft picks in exchange for the No. 1 selection in the draft. On Tuesday, he demonstrated the speed, hands and playmaking ability that enabled him to excel in Carolina, where he caught 364 passes for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns over five seasons. 

"It was a double move," Moore said after practice. "Beat the guy. Just played pitch and catch after that."

Moore made the big play look and sound a lot easier than it was. But that's what he's done since being chosen by the Panthers with the 24th pick in the 2018 draft out of Maryland.

Asked about his initial impression of Moore at the Bears' first OTA practice Monday, coach Matt Eberflus said: "The first thing I would say is speed. I just saw that. I was like, 'Wow, there's a different gear there.' That was exciting to see yesterday and today." 

Moore is certainly fast, but the Bears view him as more than just a speed merchant. 

"It's pretty rare when you've got a guy that can run the route, have the route discipline that he has and the [football intelligence] that he has and then also that speed and talent that he has," Eberflus said. "We're excited about where he is right now."

Fields sees a receiver who boasts a combination of "strength, speed, body control, [and] great hands."

"He knows how to use his body to get open," Fields said. "That's a big part in receivers. He knows how to tip a route, so he's rarely ever going to be running 100 percent on all the routes. He has that second gear to go get the ball. I think that's what makes him a great receiver, just his understanding of the coverages, seeing the defense well and stuff like that."

Fields has enjoyed working with Moore and getting to know him as a person.

"DJ brings great talent to this team," Fields said. "His personality, it fits in well with everybody really from the first day he got here. He's a hard worker, a great player. Just the way he acts around the guys, he just fits in really well with our team. I'm definitely excited about that."

Moore told reporters that he often jokes with Fields but the two are all business on the field and in the meeting room.

"I ask a lot of questions," Moore said. "He comes to me to see what I am thinking, and I go to him to see what he's thinking. So that's a lot of back and forth."

As the offseason program continues, Moore intends to develop a stronger rapport with Fields by focusing on "understanding the game within the game."

"Understanding the quarterback's footwork on different plays and just being in the right spot when he comes back," Moore said. "If I'm on the backside, just knowing that 'hey, I'm the backside read.' Or if I am on the front side, understanding his footwork for the front side, just honing in on that."

Like Moore, Edmunds is busy digesting a new system and familiarizing himself with teammates. The 6-5, 250-pounder certainly looked comfortable Tuesday when he intercepted a pass over the middle, thwarting a two-minute drill.

"Just trusting what I saw," Edmunds said. "Coach got a good call, and I was able to make a play on the ball. Everybody was pretty much doing their assignment and I was able to make a play."

Edmunds signed with the Bears in March after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Bills. He started all 74 games he played with Buffalo, compiling 565 tackles, 32 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Edmunds was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2019 and 2020, was named a Bills captain in 2019 at the age of 21 and has recorded at least 100 tackles in each of his five NFL seasons.

What's impressed Eberflus most about Edmunds to this point is the linebacker's leadership.

"He really takes command in the defensive room, and he gives great suggestions and he's very smart," Eberflus said. "Obviously, he has the size and the range and the speed and all those things that he has physically. But I would just say the leadership [stands out]."

Edmunds is eager to play in Eberflus' system but knows that success won't come overnight.

"I'm excited, just because I feel like I'm going to be in a position to make a lot of plays," Edmunds said. "Just because of his background on defense, he has a great understanding of it, just putting guys in position. As a player, that's all you can really ask for is to be in a position and now it's up to me to go make the play.

"I'm just excited about what's to come, just by going through it every day. [But] Rome wasn't built in a day. I told somebody that today. There's going to be mistakes that have to be corrected. That's what this time is for. It's not about going out there and being perfect from Day 1 or Day 2. Each day we have to continue to build. It's like a journey. We have to keep taking that journey because at the end of the day, once we fulfill the dreams that we have and the goals that we set forth to ourselves, it's going to feel a lot better just knowing where we started from."