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Velus Jones Jr. flashes big-play ability in win | Quick Hits

Bears rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr.
Bears rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr.

SEATTLE – Bears rookie Velus Jones Jr. has always had a short memory, something he learned as a kid from a wise family member.

That mentality was evident the first two times the third-round pick touched the ball in his first NFL game action Thursday night at Lumen Field in Seattle.

After fumbling at the conclusion of a 28-yard return of the opening kickoff, Jones made amends with a 48-yard punt return late in the first quarter that set up the Bears' first touchdown in a 27-11 win over the Seahawks.

"Growing up, my grandma always taught me there's nothing you can do about something if it's in the past, and I have that mentality," Jones said. "I know in this game of football, adversity can strike anytime in the game. It's how you respond. I know my abilities. I know what I can do when I get the ball in my hands. So it's never stressful. I'm never down on myself; just looking forward to the next play."

Jones showed what he can do with the ball in his hands when he retreated to catch a punt at his own 19. He weaved up the left sideline, eluding tacklers before ultimately being brought down at the Seahawks' 33.

"When I grabbed the ball, there was a guy on the punt team who was in front of me," Jones said. "But I saw a crease by the sideline. It's just a natural feeling when you get back there. So I made my cut, I just wiggled through, found the gaps and the spaces."

Jones excelled as a receiver and return specialist in college. Last year at Tennessee, he was named SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year after averaging 27.3 yards with one TD on 23 kickoff returns and 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns.

"He's fast, for sure," said coach Matt Eberflus. "He's explosive. It's a challenge for him because he's a rookie and he's going to have to come in there and show guys what he can do. I think he's up for the challenge."

After sitting out last Saturday's preseason opener with an undisclosed injury, Jones was eager to produce an impact play like his 48-yard punt return in his first pro game.

"It's a big confidence boost," said Jones, who also caught one pass for four yards. "All day in the hotel I was just thinking about the plays I was going to make, just trying to visualize everything, so it was a good feeling overall."

Same page: The rapport that has developed between Justin Fields and Cole Kmet was evident on the first possession of Thursday night's game.

The quarterback and tight end connected on pass plays of 12 and 19 yards, highlighting a 10-play, 52-yard drive capped by Cairo Santos' 35-yard field goal.

"It's growing," Kmet said of his bond with Fields. "It's good right now, and we're going to grow and see where this thing goes. But I'm excited about where it's at."

Kmet made his preseason debut after sitting out the opener with an injury.

"Cole's a great tight end," Fields said. "He can pretty much do it all. He can block. He's a great route runner. He has great hands. He definitely brings another weapon to our offense, for sure, so I was just glad to see him out there today."

Fields, Kmet and most of the Bears' No. 1 offense exited after the first possession. The only exceptions were right guard Teven Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom, both of whom left after the second drive.

Settling in: Although Jenkins wasn't moved from tackle to guard until earlier this week, he said he felt "very comfortable" at the new position Thursday night. The 2021 second-round pick from Oklahoma State worked at right guard in practice with the second team Monday and the first team Tuesday.

"I had those two practices before this," Jenkins said. "They started settling me in. The last practice we had, we were in there basically for the whole practice. It made me get more comfortable in my sets, more comfortable in my hand usage."

Asked to describe the adjustment in moving from tackle to guard, Jenkins said: "All the space you've got to work with at tackle, now you're in a phone booth. You've got to worry about not getting pushed back. You're the depth of the pocket—that's how they explained it to us—and the tackles are the width."

Fields enjoyed playing behind Jenkins Thursday night.

"He's been adjusting well," said the Bears quarterback. "He works hard at it. I'm excited to see him switch positions and see how this right guard position works out for him."

After missing the first 11 games as a rookie last year following back surgery and several practices early in training camp, Jenkins is ecstatic about being healthy.

"Things are great because I'm actually back to myself," he said.

On the shelf: Bears players who did not play in Thursday night's game were running back David Montgomery; receivers N'Keal Harry, Byron Pringle, Tajae Sharpe, Chris Finke and David Moore; fullback Khari Blasingame; tight end Ryan Griffin; center Lucas Patrick, tackle Riley Reiff; defensive end Mario Edwards Jr..; defensive tackle Justin Jones; linebacker Roquan Smith; cornerbacks Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr., Tavon Young and Greg Stroman Jr.; and safeties Jaquan Brisker and Dane Cruikshank.

News and notes: The Bears scored 43 straight points bridging their first two preseason games, outscoring the Chiefs 19-0 in the second half last Saturday and taking a 24-0 lead over the Seahawks late into the third quarter … Cairo Santos made his only two field-goal attempts for the second time in as many preseason games, connecting from 35 and 47 yards … Undrafted rookie De'Montre Tuggle led the Bears in rushing with 41 yards on 12 carries … Nsimba Webster produced the Bears' longest play of the game with a 58-yard kickoff return in the second half … Trenton Gill averaged 45.4 yards on eight punts, placing four inside-the-20 … The Bears were the far more disciplined team, committing just three penalties for 38 yards while the Seahawks drew 13 flags for 92 yards … Defensive tackle Trevon Coley recorded one of three Bears sacks, giving him three in two preseason games.

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