The Chicago Bears today conducted the first practice of the 2017 NFL season.
The first session of Bears rookie minicamp was held under beautiful northern Illinois skies, with temperatures hovering in the upper 60s throughout the early afternoon.
Today's practice was not padded, with players wearing only jerseys and shorts.
Day 1 Notebook
-As most are aware, first-round QB Mitch Trubisky did not take a snap under center during his collegiate career at North Carolina, and it showed today. His first snap of the day came during positional drills. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, facing Trubisky, snapped the ball up and the former Tar Heel pulled away too early and the ball hit the turf.
Following Trubisky's next snap, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains stepped in and demonstrated the footwork necessary to execute a play-action fake from under center.
During 11-on-11 team drills, Trubisky and C Mark Spelman, a tryout player from Illinois State, fumbled the first snap. Trubisky then bobbled the next snap but was able to hand the ball off. Later in team drills, Trubisky again let a ball hit the ground coming out from center.
"It’s not gonna be perfect every time," Trubisky said after practice. "We’re out here playing with guys we’ve never played with before. So if something like that happens, you just come back — repetition even more. Center’s the most critical part. So I’ve been getting a lot of snaps with those guys, just to make sure we build that chemistry."
It's clear that Trubisky is at Ground Zero working under center. Just the act of taking a snap and correctly pulling away from center is a challenge for him right now.
-In terms of a passer, Trubisky throws a very tight spiral with good velocity and accuracy. He was dropping balls in all over the field, hitting receivers in stride and carving up the defense.
One of the first snaps of 7-on-7s, Trubisky found WR Tanner Gentry -- who had a solid practice himself -- on a 15-yard out route from the far hash. It was an NFL-level throw with excellent timing and ball placement, giving the cornerback no chance to make a play.
Later, during 11-on-11s, Trubisky ran a play-action naked bootleg, outraced the outside linebacker to far sideline and fired a strike on the run to Gentry. As on film, his accuracy and arm strength are top-tier on the run as well.
-Out of shotgun, Trubisky was a different quarterback, showing poise and confidence. He made quick, decisive reads and got the ball out quickly.
During 7-on-7 drills, he found TE Adam Shaheen on a deep corner route. Against man coverage, Shaheen separated from the safety and snatched the pass over his head.
The following snap, Trubisky found WR Titus Davis, a veteran tryout, on a one-step quick out. The next snap, Trubisky hit TE Frank House on a quick out. The next snap, he found WR Emmanuel Obajimi (Samford), on a comeback route fitting a missile in a tight window between two defenders. On the next snap, he found Shaheen on a quick sideline out, following by another pass to Shaheen on an 8-yard hitch.
Totaled up, Trubisky completed his first seven pass during his first ever NFL 7-on-7 drill. Not too shabby.
-It was only one practice but Trubisky is clearly an NFL-level quarterback with all of the physical traits to succeed at the next level. Now it's up to him and Chicago's coaching staff to maximize his potential and reach his ceiling, which appears to be very high.
-Shaheen's first pass from Trubisky came during positional drills. He ran a double move, first cutting inside from the edge before breaking back out. Noticeable was Shaheen's ability to quickly change directions and the burst he showed out of his cut.
Chicago's first- and second-round picks showed great chemistry in their first practice together, connecting at all three levels of the passing game. The defense, comprised mostly of players who will never play in the NFL, had no answer for either of the team's top new offensive additions.
-Fourth-round S Eddie Jackson did light work during warmups and positional drills but sat out team work. Head coach John Fox said Jackson is still rehabbing the broken leg he suffered last season.
"I think he's feeling better," Fox said. "He's still in part of his rehab as far as timeline. We did some things with him but we're going to make sure he's healed and ready before we put him out there."
-Fifth-round OL Jordan Morgan worked exclusively at left guard with the first team.
-Fourth-round RB Tarik Cohen is as quick and shifty in person as he was on film for North Carolina A&T. On one of his first run snaps, the outside linebacker crashed down and was in the backfield almost immediately. Cohen made a quick jump cut inside, then another jump cut outside, leaving the defender in his wake.
Later, Cohen caught a pass over the middle and executed a spin move that left the linebacker with nothing but a handful of air.
"He's quick, he's explosive, he's an outstanding athlete," said Fox. "I think he is short in stature but there's been some shorter guys have great careers here in the National Football League. So he's got big hands, got 10-inch hands for a smaller guy, and I think for what we're going to ask him to do I think transfers well. Obviously we like him."
During special teams drills, Cohen took first reps as a punt returner.
-One tryout player who stood out was DL Corey Thomas (6-2, 304) from Northern Illinois. Thomas had two plays during team drills in which he knifed through the offensive line and was in the backfield for potential TFLs.
Another interesting trout player is OLB D.J. Johnson from Kansas State. Johnson stands out due to his 6-9 height but the former basketball player is only 237 pounds and did not show great quickness off the edge.
-WR Tanner Gentry was by far the best receiver of today's practice. He had three quality catches from Trubisky, two against man coverage and one on a deep hitch against zone coverage. Gentry has good size (6-2, 220) and showed great hands today.
-TE Franko House, another former basketball player, caught a couple of passes from Trubisky, although he bobbled the first one. Notable about House are his long strides.
-RB Joel Bouagnon from Northern Illinois is a UDFA worth monitoring. He has the size of a bruising back (6-2, 228) but he's light on his feet and showed good burst and one-cut ability.
-OLB Roy Robertson-Harris is, as expected, attending rookie minicamp. He still has physically imposing size, although he didn't do anything of note today.
Other veterans in attendance include:
RB Tyler Gaffney
OL Bill Bentley
RB Denard Robinson
OL William Poehls
WR Titus Davis
TE Casey Pierce
DL Demetrius Cherry
-There was not a field goal session today, so we did not have an opportunity to see K Andy Phillips kick field goals. That will likely come at some point this weekend.