Darnell Wright was selected by the Bears with the 10th pick in the first round of the draft. But the talented tackle from Tennessee sees himself as just another prospect trying to make a positive first impression at the team's rookie minicamp.
"I don't really feel any different," Wright said Friday at Halas Hall before taking part in his first NFL practice. "I'm trying to still make the team, know what I mean?
"Coach 'C-Mo' (Chris Morgan) made it real clear in the first meeting we had. Everybody in the room is the same player. It doesn't matter. You're here now, know what I mean? Now you have an opportunity in front of you. I'm going to try my best to capture that opportunity."
Acknowledging that the veterans who already know the playbook "have a head start" on him, Wright vowed to try to catch up "as much as I can."
Coach Matt Eberflus said that he wants the 6-5, 333-pounder to spend the offseason "just learning our style."
"I mean, he's close to where we want him to be in terms of the style. We've just got to get him here," Eberflus said, slightly raising his hand, "and then be able to retain the information and execute on the field.
"I think he's in a good spot. He retains information well. Obviously, his movement skills and athleticism are going to be on point. But we're going to really harness him in there and how he uses his body. And understanding that it's going to be a little different every week because you're going to be blocking different types of pass rushers.
"He's got to learn the scheme, learn what works for him, and that's a process. It takes time to be able to do that."
Rookie runner prefers full-contact practices
It's a bit of an understatement to say that running back Roschon Johnson dislikes practicing without pads because he can't show his physicality.
"I hate it," said the fourth-round pick from Texas. "Down the road when we get pads on, my playing style will definitely show. I hate practicing without pads on. I'm a physical guy, so I think my game will show more than that when that time comes."
Johnson said he enjoys punishing defenders, something the 6-foot, 219-pounder is unable to do in non-contact practices.
"You can't run into somebody with no shoulder pads on, you can't stiff-arm somebody," he said. "Basically, I've just got to run, and I can't use my body as a weapon. That's the worst part about it."
Fatherhood changed Dexter's life
Second-round defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. proudly wore the suffix "Sr." on his jersey at Florida and plans to also do so with the Bears. (It was on his practice jersey Friday.) The 6-6, 310-pounder became a father last May 9 when Gervon Lashawn Dexter Jr. was born.
"That experience has totally changed my life," Dexter said. "You learn to look at the world a little bit different and you become a lot [more] selfless and you learn that somebody is depending on you."
Dexter revealed that his son looks just like him, joking that "he has my whole face, so that was a little good for me."
Division II passer stepping up in class
Eberflus conceded that it's difficult to project how record-breaking Division II quarterback Tyson Bagent—who signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent—will fare against NFL competition.
"That's why we bring him here, right?" Eberflus said. "We see him operate, we see what he does in the walkthroughs, see what he does in the individual and the team periods and then really just evaluate the guy."
Playing at Shepherd University in West Virginia, Bagent set a record for most touchdown passes across all NCAA divisions with 159. In 2021, he won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II national player of the year after passing for 5,000 yards and 53 TDs.
"We really don't care where they're from now," Eberflus said. "They're here. It doesn't matter to us whether they're a tryout guy or a guy that we've signed, an undrafted free agent. That doesn't matter."