Chicago Bears rookie quarterback David Fales is getting his feet wet during his first NLF training camp. He’s working with the third team and could fly under the radar as Chicago’s No. 3 passer this season.
We caught up with Fales following Family Night to discuss his transition to the pro game, training camp, his first time playing on Soldier Field and more.
“I love being here tonight. It’s so exciting. All of the rookies felt the same way today. We rode up on the bus together coming up from Bourbonnais and we were laughing all the way. We just couldn’t wait to go out on this field.
“What do I think of Chicago fans? Well, what can I say? I came from a fairly small school so this is all relatively new to me. It was loud tonight, much more noise than I’d expected. I can’t wait to be on the field during a game and find out what its like then. I’m so impressed that so many people came here to support us. It was a great introduction to playing football in Chicago.
“I’ve loved my experience so far. My big discovery this past week of camp was to find out that football at this level is primarily mental. OK, it’s taken for granted that everybody here has the physical skills. What I think the coaches are looking for is the mental ability as well. There’s so much to learn in a relatively short period of time. If you can’t soak it in quickly it’s going to be a struggle.
“I look around me and see the guys who have become my mentors. You can’t do any better than having Jay Cutler helping you out. Jay, Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen, all class acts. They are taking the time to help me adjust and be effective. Any time I am not on the field, I watch and learn. Just watching them play is like an advanced course in professional football.
“What do I think I bring to the team? Well, I’m cool under pressure. I don’t tend to panic in stressful situations on the field. I love the game and am willing to put in the time it will take to be successful. I think I’ve picked up the playbook fairly quickly. I’m still working really hard to understand it all but I am definitely making good progress.
“What I’m surprised by is that so far, at least physically, I am adapting quite well. I understand the position and my instincts take over once the ball is snapped. Mentally, I’ m definitely not there yet. I’d like to be reacting much faster. I can detect pauses here and there when I think before reacting. That’s not what you want to be doing.
“I know I’m just beginning in the NFL so I’m not at all discouraged. In fact I enjoy the challenge of knowing how much I have to improve. There’s no substitute for experience when you are in the NFL so I’m getting as much on-field time as possible.
“Jay, Jimmy and Jordan are helping me on mental reps. Anytime I’m around them, they have me working pretty hard. When I’m not playing, I watch these guys who have been around a long time, especially Jay. He’s definitely cool under pressure and makes good decisions. The coaches have been spending a lot of time with me as well. They certainly know what I should be doing, so I listen and try to take in as much as I can.
“Coming into training camp I had no idea what to expect. So far it’s been a tremendous amount of work but as a rookie, that is what you want. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a single day. I’m learning to pace myself and to take the challenges as they come.
“It was a crazy bus ride coming up here to Soldier Field. All the rookies were together and we were having a great time, all smiling and telling jokes. You could tell how excited we were to have this opportunity.
“Once I got here I couldn’t believe it. The noise, the crowds, it’s overwhelming. I can’t remember having this much fun playing football before.
“This will be a full week because we’re still in training camp. We’ll be back in Bourbonnais, get back to practice, then we start working up to the game. It doesn’t get any better than that.
“Looking back a year ago, I hoped I’d be in this situation right now but you never know for sure until something like that actually happens. I am living a dream I’ve had for a very long time.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.