The Bears welcomed the Miami Dolphins to Halas Hall Wednesday for the first of two joint practices in advance of Saturday's preseason opener at Soldier Field.
"We're excited to get the Dolphins here, be able go out there and change the monotony up of camp for both of us," said coach Matt Nagy. "I think we've put together a nice little schedule to be able to get some situational stuff. I know they're ready to go. We're ready to go. [We want to] make it competitive, not combative. [To] be able to go out there and get some different looks, I think that'll be really good."
Mother Nature seemingly had other plans. At about 10 a.m., the Bears and Dolphins retreated inside the Walter Payton Center after a siren sounded indicating that lightning had been spotted nearby. It then began to rain. The weather delay lasted about 90 minutes before the two teams returned to the practice field.
"[We] kind of just waited it out, stretched, trying to keep our minds on practice," said linebacker Christian Jones.
The joint practices Wednesday and Thursday, coupled with Saturday's preseason game, will provide a litmus test for the Bears after more than two weeks of training camp.
"It's fun to get these opportunities to go against a different team, and it comes at a good time," said quarterback Andy Dalton. "You've been going against the same guys over and over and over again, going against our defense, and now you get a completely different style going against different looks."
The Bears offense battled the Dolphins defense and the Bears defense faced the Dolphins offense on adjacent fields. The teams conducted 7-on-7, 11-on-11, red-zone and two-minute drills and interspersed special-teams periods as well.
"They do a good job," Dalton said. "There's a lot of just in-your-face man coverage, and [they] expect you to go out and win. It's great for our guys to get that. Now getting a chance to go against different people, different team, different guys in front of you, you expect to go get your job done. I thought we handled it well. There were times that there's things we could do better. But this is practice right now. We'll look at the tape and we'll improve from it."
Just for openers: Along with most Bears starters, Dalton is expected to play 8-10 snaps in Saturday afternoon's preseason opener.
"I would say if we felt like he wasn't at the point we wanted him to be at, we would play him more in preseason," Nagy said. "[But] he's exceeded that. He could play tomorrow in a game and I would feel great about it. Our players would feel great about it. That's why he'll probably play less snaps.
"If we go out there and score a touchdown on the first drive, I can promise you if it's three plays, he's out. But if we want to see more and he feels like he needs more, too, we'll do that. It'll be a little bit of a chance for us to talk through it. And we need to evaluate [backup quarterback] Justin [Fields], so we're going to want to see him do some stuff, too."
Asked what he wants to accomplish in Saturday's preseason game, Dalton said: "You just want to be efficient. While you're out there you want to make sure that guys are getting in and out of the huddle, you're able to get up to the line, you're able to just execute the offense how it's supposed to be run. That's the biggest thing."
Familiar face: Recently retired NFL quarterback Alex Smith was on the practice field with the Bears Wednesday. Smith's five seasons with the Chiefs coincided with Nagy's tenure as Kansas City's quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and offensive coordinator (2016-17).
"It's fun to have him around and just to kind of talk through things, what he sees on some of our plays that we're running and also just to talk about life and how things are going," said Dalton, who played with Smith on the AFC Pro Bowl team in 2016. "It's been really cool to have Alex here."
With the Bears practicing with and playing against the Dolphins this week, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 Bears players who also suited up for Miami.