A couple days into training camp, it's clear to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy that quarterback Justin Fields has taken ownership of the Bears offense.
"That's what's so special about him," Getsy said. "Forget the athletic part. That guy, the way he attacks every single day and his approach and leads by example, doesn't ask anybody to do anything he doesn't expect of himself. That guy's a natural born leader-type of guy, so we're lucky to have a guy like that leading this thing."
As the Bears' undisputed starting quarterback, Fields is in a much better position to lead his teammates than he was last year in training camp when he was taking second-team reps behind veteran Andy Dalton.
The difference is palpable to receiver Darnell Mooney, who sees Fields "being more vocal and just having the understanding that he is the guy and this is his team."
"We were just outside after practice throwing routes, and you have guys see him [and] walk over," Mooney said. "You can't just walk off the field. You're like, 'I've got to get more reps with him.'"
Getsy has been pleased with the progress Fields has made and is eager to see that growth continue when the Bears begin practicing in pads on Tuesday.
"He's come so far from where we started," Getsy said. "We still have a long way to go, though. As far as attacking the system and the knowledge of the system and what's going on around him, I think he's done a great job of that.
"The cool part about it is in a couple more days, we get to put pads on and this thing gets to be real. These [non-contact] practices are great because you get timing and rhythm and stuff like that, but this game is a feel game and the only way you get the real feel is if it's the real thing. So, these reps that will be coming down the road here will be super important for him."
Helping hand: Getsy has enjoyed watching recent free-agent acquisition Riley Reiff—a tackle who has played 10 NFL seasons with the Lions, Vikings and Bengals—work with the Bears' inexperienced offensive linemen.
Reiff, who signed a one-year deal Tuesday, has been a full-time starter since his second NFL season with Detroit in 2013, opening all 61 games he's played during that span.
"We're doing walkthrough blitz-prep stuff and we have some young guys in situations and then as soon as that situation's over, Riley's walking up to them and giving them a nice tip about, 'When I see this, this is where my mindset goes, this is where my feet go, this is where my hands go,'" Getsy said. "That veteran leadership is critical on any team and we're happy to have him for sure."
Thursday marked 2022's first public workout at Halas Hall as the Bears took the fields in front of an enthusiastic crowd for another Enjoy Illinois Training Camp practice.
Head start: In a wide open competition for jobs behind Darnell Mooney at receiver, Getsy acknowledged that free-agent signee Equanimeous St. Brown "has a little bit of a head start on those guys just because he has familiarity with the system."
Selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of Notre Dame, St. Brown spent the past three seasons working with Getsy, who served as Green Bay's quarterbacks coach from 2019-21 and passing game coordinator the last two years.
Last season, St. Brown was waived by the Packers during final cuts and re-signed to their practice squad. But the 6-5, 214-pounder continued to work hard and eventually appeared in a career-high 13 games with two starts.
"His mentality, the toughness and the way he attacked every day, I was just super impressed with how he handled that," Getsy said. "I mean, I always liked 'EQ' and thought he was a good player, and then I saw him go through that adversity and the way he handled all that stuff. That's what these guys are all leaning on. That leadership and that experience that he went through, that's super for us. We're going to lean on that."
Jackson signed with the Bears in January after spending his first two NFL seasons with the Jets. The 6-2, 208-pounder signed with New York in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska. He appeared in 13 games with six starts as a rookie, recording 28 tackles and two pass breakups.
Jackson spent most of last season on the Jets' practice squad, playing just one game.