Caleb Williams has better practice Friday; Bears react to ‘Hard Knocks’ selection

Eberflus: ‘Caleb was really good’

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams works on the field with teammates during NFL football practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, May 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LAKE FOREST – Friday was a full 180.

As rough as Caleb Williams’ practice was a week ago during organized team activities, Friday’s practice was the opposite. The No. 1 overall draft pick was hitting his targets in stride and finding open receivers in the short, intermediate and deep areas of the field.

“Caleb was really good,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said after practice Friday. “I thought he did a really nice job throwing the ball on time. His footwork has improved this whole week. His progress was there.”

Not all OTA practices are open for members of the media. But last week, during the first open practice, the rookie QB struggled mightily. Friday was a completely different narrative.

Caleb was really good. I thought he did a really nice job throwing the ball on time. His footwork has improved this whole week. His progress was there.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

It should be noted that most of the defense’s starting secondary was absent. Notable absences in the secondary included defensive backs Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker and Kevin Byard – all projected starters. These practices also are not conducted in full pads, so it’s far less physical than a real game.

Still, Williams led the offense downfield for a game-winning field goal during a two-minute drill. He connected with receiver DJ Moore for a pair of first-down completions. Kicker Cairo Santos knocked in a 40-yard game-winning field goal.

“There are some learning moments in there during the course of the week,” Eberflus said. “It wasn’t perfect, but again, there was progress. I thought this week was better than last week. That’s the positive.”

Attendance notes

In addition to the absences in the secondary, the Bears were without receiver Keenan Allen, defensive end Montez Sweat and receiver Dante Pettis. Those three were not present at all.

The following players were present but did not participate in practice: linebacker TJ Edwards, guard Nate Davis, tackle Kiran Amegadjie, tackle Aviante Collins and receiver Collin Johnson.

Guard Teven Jenkins and defensive end DeMarcus Walker appeared to be limited participants. They did not participate in team drills.

‘Hard Knocks’

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus listens to reporters during a news conference before the NFL football team's rookie camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Bears will be featured on the upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” during training camp. The show follows one team throughout camp. It will air the first of five episodes Aug. 6.

Bears chairman George McCaskey has been pretty clear that he didn’t want the distraction for his team. The Bears have never been on the show before. In March, McCaskey joked that he felt 31 other teams had more compelling stories to tell.

The Bears were one of three teams that were eligible to be forced into participating by the NFL. Teams that haven’t made the playoffs in each of the past two years, that don’t have a first-year head coach and that haven’t been on the show over the past decade may be forced to participate. This year, only the Bears, Broncos and Saints qualified for all three of those metrics.

Eberflus spun it as a positive Friday. The coach was featured on the show in 2021 when he was the defensive coordinator with the Colts.

“We know we had really good people in the building and our message was going to be: Who we are and how we operate,” Eberflus said. “No one changes how they act, no one changes what they do, we just focus on our job. They’re going to have special-interest stories that they do, which I think, some of them are really good. And we have a lot of them here in our building, so I’m excited to see that.”

Eberflus noted that Williams might be especially well suited to be on the show. He has spent much of his life in the spotlight, from being a top recruit to winning the Heisman Trophy to going No. 1 overall in the draft. HBO certainly will want to focus on the top draft pick.

The show usually will showcase one or two players who are on the verge of being cut. Those can sometimes be difficult conversations to watch on TV. Eberflus said he doesn’t want those conversations to be aired.

“You have some hard conversations sometimes in the building, and those have to be done in private,” Eberflus said. “What’s nice about it is we have a great plan in place for that. Everybody who goes on ‘Hard Knocks’ has editing rights to what goes in and out and all those things, and that’s the standard, but yeah, we have a good plan.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.