Chicago Bears minicamp report: Caleb Williams getting ‘exposure’ to Bears’ talented defense

All Bears starters present for mandatory minicamp

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams looks to a throw during NFL team's mandatory minicamp football practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LAKE FOREST – After one rep during veteran minicamp Tuesday, Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson stopped by the sideline where media members stood watching practice.

Johnson had beef with the completion numbers reported during last Friday’s open OTA practice. He wanted to make a point: When the quarterback scrambles during 7-on-7, that’s a win for the defense even if they play on.

Point taken. As cornerbacks coach Jon Hoke told reporters last week: “Me and you can go play 7-on-7.”

It’s probably a relevant reminder this time of year that 7-on-7 is not real football. There are elements of the game that pass catchers, defensive backs and quarterbacks can work on. But it’s not the real deal. NFL players won’t put on their full pads until late July. Spring practice is about learning.

Tuesday’s practice, the first of the Bears’ three-day mandatory minicamp, was more of an up-and-down performance from rookie quarterback Caleb Williams than last Friday’s OTA practice.

Tuesday had its good moments and bad. Safety Kevin Byard picked off Williams on a pass over the middle during 7-on-7.

“Those are the experiences that he has to go through,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “He has to go through his progressions, which he did. He was right on his progressions [on the interception]. Then he took a hitch, and the ball should have came out, and he took two hitches, and it was late over the middle. That’s always dangerous when you do that.”

Williams did make a few nice throws, including one big gain to rookie receiver Rome Odunze.

During a two-minute drill, Williams had two chances to lead the offense down the field from deep in his own territory. Both times, the offense failed to pick up a first down. The defense was once again making life hard on the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Anybody that I am going up against, I want to make better and I would hope they would want to do the same to me. Yeah, we’re just taking that approach as we go along.”

—  Montez Sweat, Bears defensive end

“Anybody that I am going up against, I want to make better and I would hope they would want to do the same to me,” defensive end Montez Sweat said. “Yeah, we’re just taking that approach as we go along.”

It goes without saying that the offense is a work in progress. Williams is doing exactly what rookies should be doing right now. He’s testing the limits. He won’t be able to get away with everything he did in college. NFL athletes are bigger, faster and stronger.

Now is the time to see what works and what doesn’t.

“We’re just doing a really good job of getting experience,” Eberflus said. “Get him exposure. Let him experiment with his arm talent and the receivers that he has. Eventually, player development happens and the evolution of a quarterback happens. That’s the process that we have to go through.”

Perfect attendance

The Bears had all of their starters present for mandatory minicamp Tuesday. Sweat, who stayed home for all of the optional OTA practices, was present Tuesday. Guard Nate Davis, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and Sweat all were present but did not appear to participate in team drills. Eberflus hopes to have Sweat participating more Wednesday.

Sweat said he remained in close contact with Eberflus, defensive coordinator Eric Washington and defensive line coach Travis Smith while he was away from Halas Hall.

“Just staying on tune with the installs and all that type of stuff,” Sweat said. “It’s almost like I didn’t miss a beat.”

Bill Walsh coaching fellowships

The Bears announced six coaches will join the team during minicamp and training camp as Bill Walsh coaching fellows. The NFL’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship Program gives up and coming coaches the opportunity to observe and participate in camp. The goal is to give these coaches an avenue into the NFL.

The following coaches will help out the Bears’ coaching staff this summer: Mike Bellamy II, Stefon Wheeler, Angela Rowe, Michael Bearden, Yosef Fares and Anthony Blevins.

Bellamy has been a running backs and receivers coach at D-I school such as Illinois, Mississippi State and Toledo. Wheeler is the offensive line coach at Yale. Rowe leads the flag football program at Huntingdon College (Alabama). Bearden is a graduate assistant at Notre Dame. Fares is a high school coach in California. Blevins was a Bears coaching fellow in 2008 and has coached in the NFL, the XFL and at the college level.

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.