It will be Fales' final chance to prove he belongs on the final 53-man roster, so he'll be under the microscope in terms of his value as the team's No. 3 passer or potentially on the practice squad. He'll also be auditioning for 31 other NFL teams who might want to take a chance on a young, accurate signal caller, should the Bears choose to go with just two quarterbacks.
Bear Report sat down with Fales heading into this crucial preseason contest.
“I’m really excited having this opportunity to go out in the upcoming game. It’s always a pleasure to be out there running around. It’s the chance I’ve been waiting for to be out there and performing as I know I can.”
What is the difference between football at this level and college football?
“Well, the most obvious things are the speed of the game and the intensity of the players. Everybody who is on the field was a star in college. Everybody is completely focused on winning. But really, I try not to think about that very much. I know if I practice well and go out and do what I’ve been trained to do, then all should be fine.
“I can’t say enough about the Bears quarterbacks who have been helping me. Jordan [Palmer], Jay [Cutler], Jimmy [Clausen], they’ve all taken the time to offer their experience and expertise. We’ve been working on technique, on footwork, on running plays. It would be impossible for me to have found better mentors than these players.
“The same goes for the coaches. They’ve been helping me perfect my technique and build my confidence. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at game tape and seeing how other quarterbacks in the league respond to situations. It’s all a learning process. I know I have a long way to go but I feel I have made definite progress.
“One thing I catch myself doing is thinking before I react. It’s fine for a quarterback to think - it’s expected - but the process has to be incredibly fast. You see the situation on the field and you must react immediately in the correct manner. If you get rattled or are indecisive, things are not going to turn out the way you want them to. It’s a classic rookie habit to over-think things. I want to move on from that as quickly as possible.
“I’ve been making a base game plan, one where everybody will feel comfortable out there. It’s based on the films I’ve seen and from my experiences during training camp. It’s much more complex than a game plan I’d have in college only because things at this level tend to be a lot more complicated. There’s more terminology, more talented people to utilize, more options in front of you. I want to go out, get to the reads fast, play fast and have fun.
“I’ve been studying film to see what other defenses do. I realize that every game is different but I am noticing certain trends.
“Nerves may be a problem initially but I am confident that as soon as the first series begins, I’ll feel my football instincts kicking in. Really, you are so concentrated on what is in front of you at the time that there is no opportunity to think about anything else. I feel very well prepared. I feel nervous when I am not well prepared, when I don’t feel I understand what is going on. Right now, I’m comfortable with the game plan and I understand my reads.
"Mental reps are the most important part of training camp for a young quarterback. I’m always watching and learning. I dial into the meetings and see what I can take away. I watch Jay and the other quarterbacks and how they handle themselves on and off the field.
"I definitely want to make the 53-man roster. I want that chance to be on the team and develop with Coach Trestman and Jay. Jay and Jimmy are extremely interesting to watch. Their footwork, their reads, how they run an offense, it’s all an education for me. Mechanically, in terms of the game, I’m learning something new every day. I watch their reactions, how they handle things. It’s all so fast. I’m definitely not at that level yet but I think I have the potential to be there eventually. I’ts a matter of experience and the ability to function at a high mental level all of the time.
“As a rookie its important that I don’t try to do too much. That puts a lot of internal pressure on the situation and can lead to mistakes. I feel confident in my accuracy and in my consistency right now. I believe that I have enough arm strength to make all the throws that I need to. Those are factors I will be building on.
“What drives me crazy sometimes is that my feet are behind my mind. I need to make a decision, then move. You won’t see that hesitation in experienced veteran quarterbacks but you will see it quite often in rookies. It’s part of the transition from the college game to professional football. That's what I've been focusing on the past few weeks.
“It’s been an exciting week. I’ve been very concentrated going through the game plan and working on the reads. We’re getting the protection dialed in as well. There are a lot of details that go into formulating a viable game plan.
“All the quarterbacks here work really well together and always help each other out. Jay has told me to start fast, don’t try to do too much and get a rhythm going. I’m comfortable with things as they have progressed through today, although it’s been a more intense week than I’ve experienced up to now. You can’t get a better education than watching these guys. I believe that I will be effective in putting that into good results on the field Thursday night.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 14 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.