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Offseason program ends, but Fields will keep grinding

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

The Bears concluded their offseason program Thursday with a third and final minicamp practice, but that doesn't mean Justin Fields will stop preparing for training camp.

The third-year quarterback plans to take a week off and then resume training. He then intends to work out with teammates shortly before returning to Halas Hall for the start of camp in late July.

"I'm going to get the receivers, tight ends, running backs down to Florida, throw with them for a few days just right before we come back," Fields said. "Really just to get back on the same page, throwing routes with them and just getting that chemistry up on the field, off the field. I think that's one part as a team that we've grown is our chemistry off the field too. I'm excited for that."

Fields also indicated that he would begin running more in the days before training camp. Last season he emerged as a dynamic ballcarrier, rushing for 1,143 yards—the second most by a quarterback in NFL history. He also set a single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 178 last Nov. 6 against the Dolphins. 

The Bears expect Fields to make strides as a passer this year and are pleased with how he threw the ball in offseason practices, especially on deep routes. Fields excelled in red-zone drills Thursday, throwing touchdown passes to tight ends Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan and receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis. 

"I thought Justin went through his reads and went through his progressions nicely and hit some good routes in the corners and the front pylons," said coach Matt Eberflus. 

"I feel like we finished off minicamp strong today, for sure," Fields added.

Check out the action from Halas Hall as the Bears hit the practice fields for the team's mandatory minicamp.

Back in the same offense for a second straight year after learning new systems in each of his first two NFL seasons, Fields is clearly more comfortable. 

"There's no teacher like experience; there just isn't," Eberflus said. "You can talk about it all you want. If you want to swing the golf club, you can talk about it until you're blue in the face. Until you actually take a lesson and learn how to grip the club, take a stance and swing at it, there's nothing like experience in anything you do."

More familiarity with the offense has helped Fields become more proficient with his decision-making and getting the ball out of his hands more rapidly. 

"You can see it," Eberflus said. "It's quicker, it's faster, it's more precise. Again, that comes down to his experience and his work ethic. He's worked really hard at it."

Fields' work ethic has helped him become an even stronger team leader. 

"He's always the hardest worker," Eberflus said. "He's always the first guy out, last to leave. He's always done that. But he is taking that to a different level in terms of being a vocal leader and talking to guys." 

"He carries himself, I would say, probably like a 10-year vet right now," said left guard Teven Jenkins. "Just seeing how he commands that huddle and what he wants to see out of all of us, it's like a wakeup call for me to see that I need to start pushing myself to get on his level because he's demanding that sort of effort out of all of us."

Fields credits his growth as a leader in part to the mentality that players acquired by the Bears this offseason have brought to the team. 

"They've bought into our culture here, just competing day-in and day-out and really just having that championship mindset," Fields said. "We're all working towards the same goal, all working towards getting better … Everybody's been great up to this point and we just look to take that next step."

Fields has already developed a rapport with one of the newcomers, veteran receiver DJ Moore, who was acquired as part of a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers. 

"It did come on quickly," Fields said. "His body language is pretty easy to read. Early on, we communicated on how we want each route ran and stuff like that. Of course, he has a lot of experience. He's been in the league for a good period of time now. 

"He's played a lot of football, so he knows different coverages really well. That's one thing that I was kind of impressed about, with the offense coming in and just understanding and seeing coverages really well on choice routes and stuff like that. He's been great, and the chemistry has definitely picked up."

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