Caleb Williams considers spring practice a success as Chicago Bears break for a month

Everything’s about the bond and the trust that you build between each other,’ Williams said

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 – Caleb Williams’ top goal this spring was to get to know his teammates. As the team’s final practice of OTAs wrapped up Wednesday at Halas Hall, he said he considers the spring a success.

“From Nov. 18 to April 25 of not being on a team, you realize how much you miss it, being in the locker room in those small moments,” Williams said.

The BearsNo. 1 overall draft pick has a new locker room now at the team’s facility in Lake Forest. He has also taken full advantage of all that the city of Chicago has to offer. He and his teammates were spotted at a suburban Topgolf, at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game and several more public appearances.

Every step of the way, he had a teammate by his side.

“Everything’s about the bond and the trust that you build between each other,” Williams said. “Then you go out there and you play with a different level of – your mentality’s different. Everything’s different when you’re out there playing for each other and not out there playing for yourself.”

Everything’s different when you’re out there playing for each other and not out there playing for yourself.”

—  Caleb Williams, Bears quarterback

The Bears wrapped up the spring portion of their practice calendar. Wednesday’s practice featured only the rookies. The veterans were sent home following mandatory minicamp last week. Williams was out on the practice field working with fellow rookies such as No. 9 overall pick Rome Odunze.

The Bears coaching staff is quite happy with the progress that Williams has shown throughout the month-long spring practice session.

“[It’s] confirming a lot of the things that we gathered during the draft process,” offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said. “His competitive nature, his willingness to learn, his desire to know the why on everything that is happening so that he’s not just out there robotic, trying to just run a play. He’s out there really learning it, really understanding it.”

The team has about a month off before training camp begins. Camp will begin several days earlier than usual because the Bears are participating in the Aug. 1 Hall of Fame Game.

Between now and then, Williams plans to get together with some of his teammates for throwing sessions.

“We actually were all texting last night in the group chat trying to figure out where exactly we want to be in the world, where we’re going to be throwing, working out, and bonding and things like that,” Williams said.

The hope is that those workouts will include some defensive players as well.

Throwing the kitchen sink at him

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, left top, smiles as he talks with quarterback Caleb Williams (18) during the NFL football team's rookie camp in May at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill.

Waldron noted that the Bears aren’t really holding anything back with Williams, in terms of the offense.

“Part of this, in my mind and in our mind as an offensive staff, is to really build some volume in the offense to see what all of our players can handle,” Waldron said. “We have a lot of pieces to that puzzle, so we want to see what different skill sets are going to be able to handle different parts of our offense and with that goal of building that towards training camp and into the regular season. So, we’ve dealt with a good amount of volume right now.”

It’s a promising sign that Waldron doesn’t feel the need to hold anything back with his rookie quarterback.

Williams had his share of ups and downs during the spring period, but that’s to be expected with any rookie QB. Head coach Matt Eberflus said all the rookies need to stay locked in over the next four weeks when the team is not practicing. That’s what’s going to help them hit the ground running when training camp begins next month.

“My point to the rookies was simple: Where we’re at right now is a place where we can’t be, we’ve got to be at a level up, we’ve got to level up two spots in those four weeks in the preparation,” Eberflus said.

Will Williams play in the preseason?

Eberflus said he and his staff have not made a decision regarding how much Williams will play during the team’s four preseason games. They are in the process of figuring that out now.

Last season, quarterback Justin Fields played only 20 snaps in the preseason. But Fields was in his third NFL season. The approach might be completely different with a rookie quarterback.

Eberflus pointed out that last year’s top rookies – CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson – all played a fair amount in the preseason.

“They all got between 45 and 65 reps in the preseason,” Eberflus said. “So you look at those things and you look at the past and we’ll be looking a little deeper than that and go back a few years. So you’re always looking at that and gathering the data.”

The preseason begins Aug. 1 with the Hall of Fame Game against the Houston Texans in Canton, Ohio.

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.