Bears rookie linebacker Noah Sewell, a fifth-round draft pick from Oregon, is excited to play an iconic position for a storied franchise.
"For me, it's a great history with the linebackers," Sewell said last week at rookie minicamp. "I mean, [Dick] Butkus, [Mike] Singletary … I could go on and on. I'm just grateful and blessed to be a part of this franchise."
Sewell appeared in 33 games over three seasons at Oregon, registering 218 tackles, 20.5 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, two interceptions, nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Last year he was named second-team All-Pac 12 by the conference's coaches and was a Butkus Award semifinalist.
As a Bears rookie, Sewell intends to learn from veteran free-agent additions Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards. Edmunds played his first five NFL seasons with the Bills, recording at least 100 tackles every year and being selected to two Pro Bowls. Edwards spent his first four seasons with the Eagles, leading last year's NFC champions with 159 tackles, the second most in franchise history.
Asked what he wants to glean from Edmunds and Edwards, Sewell said: "Their mentality; just the way they carry themselves on the field. I just want to learn; I mean pick their brains and see how they move with the game."
Sewell brings versatility to the Bears. At Oregon, he played middle linebacker, but also saw action at edge rusher and lined up in the slot in pass coverage.
"They thought they could utilize me in every aspect: from the middle, the edge," Sewell said. "They thought it could grow my game to a whole other level."
Smith makes immediate impact
Fifth-round pick Terell Smith, a cornerback from Minnesota, demonstrated his athleticism and ball skills in his first NFL practice during rookie minicamp last Friday, leaping high to intercept a 50/50 ball.
"It felt good," Smith said. "We were in cover-two. We got a slot fade by No. 2, so I had to just jam [the No. 1 receiver], sink into the hole and go up for the ball."
The 6-1, 204-pounder said he takes "great pride just going up there and high-pointing the ball. Just showing everyone what I can do out there felt good."
Smith appeared in 37 games over five seasons at Minnesota, compiling 109 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, four interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Last year he produced 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups.
A four-time All-Big Ten Academic Team honoree, Smith displayed athleticism and physicality for the Golden Gophers, excelling as an open-field tackler.
"I played in the Big Ten, so playing physical is all we know," Smith said. "So just coming in here and having that same brand of football is something I take pride in."
Increasing talent and competition
The Bears drafted a cornerback Tyrique Stevenson in the second round and running back Roschon Johnson and receiver Tyler Scott in the fourth round. But that doesn't mean they were sending a message to young players already on the roster at those positions such as cornerback Kindle Vildor, running back Trestan Ebner and receiver Velus Jones Jr.
"We believe in all those guys that are currently on our roster or they wouldn't be here," said coach Matt Eberflus. "Those guys are all going to compete. Obviously we believe in the guys we drafted. When you start to increase your talent on your roster, the competition gets better and gets more, and I think it's a healthy thing. The NFL is all about competition. It's all about, 'Hey, we're trying to get these spots,' and you have to compete for that spot."
Charles in charge
Bears cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator Jon Hoke enjoyed listening to Charles Tillman speak to the rookies during their minicamp. Hoke coached the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback during a previous stint with the Bears from 2009-14.
"You have to listen and he will tell you things that were key to his success," Hoke said. "When they listen—and they did and he had their full attention—it's just about how you approach things and your mindset about going into even a practice, or a meeting or even a game, those types of things."
63 players, including the Bears' 2023 draft class, were on the fields at Halas Hall this weekend for a pair of rookie minicamp practices.