10 takeaways from the first day of Bears minicamp

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·11 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Chicago Bears reported to Halas Hall for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, where some big-name veterans returned to the practice field for the first of three practices this week.

Let’s recap what went down during the first day of Chicago’s minicamp. From Andy Dalton’s impressive day to Eddie Goldman’s absence, here’s what we learned from Tuesday’s practice.

NT Eddie Goldman was noticeably absent

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

While most of Chicago's defensive starters opted to skip voluntary OTAs, they reported for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. That is, all except one, very important member of their defensive line -- nose tackle Eddie Goldman. Goldman opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, but he was expected to return for the 2021 season. He's not off to a great start choosing to forgo mandatory minicamp, which head coach Matt Nagy called an unexcused absence. “As everyone knows, it’s a mandatory minicamp and he’s not here,” Nagy said. “We did have a discussion with him yesterday and obviously I’m going to keep between us, but we do expect him to be at training camp rocking and rolling there at training camp.” Goldman's absence at minicamp is also a concern given that he missed all of last season. But Nagy expects him to be ready for training camp. “I don’t think it’s in doubt,” Nagy said. “I really feel confident that he is going to be here. Obviously when someone is not in minicamp that’s probably what a lot of people will think and start wondering what the deal is and that’s natural and okay and normal. But we fully expect him to be there. “Do we wish he was here? Absolutely, because we think he is a hell of a player and he has been out a whole year.”

Robert Quinn held out of practice with back injury

AP Photo/Danny Karnik

So far, the free-agent signing of Robert Quinn has been a bust for the Bears. Which isn't to say he hasn't had an impact as a disruptor. But Quinn has struggled with injuries since he signed with Chicago last offseason. While Quinn was present at minicamp, he was held out of practice with a lower back injury. Nagy said it they were being conservative, but it's yet another setback with Quinn. https://twitter.com/DickersonESPN/status/1404909298874994695?s=20

Andy Dalton was the best quarterback on Day 1

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

While fans are deservedly excited for the debut of Justin Fields, Andy Dalton is the team's starting quarterback right now. And after some struggles during voluntary OTAs, Dalton came out firing on Day 1 of minicamp. On the Hoge and Jahns Podcast, The Athletic's Adam Jahns said Dalton was the best quarterback on the field on Tuesday, although he noted that he could've benefited from playing with the starters. Zack Pearson, who also appeared on the show, said that while Dalton is still learning the offense, he looked more comfortable and took a step forward on Tuesday. Dalton found a connection with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who flashed his speed and big-play potential. The pair connected on a pair of deep balls, including this beauty shared by the Bears Twitter account. https://twitter.com/ChicagoBears/status/1404966960245350401?s=20

Justin Fields won't be given chance to win starting job in training camp

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big storylines to come out of Tuesday's practice was confirmation that Fields won't have a chance to win the starting quarterback job over Dalton. Nagy confirmed as much with reporters. "Whether it's clarification he can't win it? Yes, correct. Andy Dalton is our starter," Nagy said. The decision of who will be starting with the Bears shouldn't be made in mid-June. Especially if, as Nagy said, Dalton wasn't "promised" the starting job when Chicago signed him. While Fields has impressed throughout the offseason, he hasn't been without his faults, which is natural for a rookie acclimating to the NFL. According to Jahns, Fields had some struggles on the first day of minicamp. He continued to struggle with quarterback-center exchanges -- as he had a fumbled snap -- and he was intercepted on a deep ball that he threw into tight coverage. It would be one thing if Nagy was reiterating his stance that Dalton is the starting quarterback right now but that it could certainly change. But Nagy's stubbornness is rearing its ugly head again as he's determined to go the Chiefs route, as Kansas City sat Patrick Mahomes for a year behind Alex Smith. Those two situations couldn't be more different. While Nagy is firm on sitting Fields behind Dalton in the regular season, that stance will surely change if the losses pile on.

Jimmy Graham contemplated retirement after 2020 season

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

There was a moment after last season's playoff loss to the Saints where tight end Jimmy Graham considered retirement. But ultimately, it was the allure of winning his first Super Bowl ring that brought him back to the Bears in 2021.

"I certainly did [consider retiring] for a second there, for a little bit, [but] I've got a lot of unfinished business," he said. "It was very difficult for me to go back in the dome and especially to lose. I'm a pretty fiery person. I'm a pretty enthusiastic person. And I hate losing, simple as that.

"It was a lot of frustration there because I haven't won a ring, and that's all I think about. So just knowing that it's another year, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. But I talked to Ryan and I talked to Matt, and I'm on board and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get back in that position and to move forward and hopefully to make a run."

Health was the biggest factor for Graham. So once he knew his body was up for another season -- with a 17th regular season game -- he knew that was going to return for another year. "I feel like I can still be used and I can still be a weapon and I can still be a leader for this team," Graham said, "and help these young kids to make a run and to share some of my knowledge of what been through in this league and the wins and the lessons I've learned."

Roquan Smith wants to remain with Bears, but he's not focused on new contract right now

AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

Roquan Smith had a breakout season in 2020, where he proved to be one of the NFL's best young linebackers. Which has set him up to be one of the next Bears players up for a contract extension. But entering a pivotal fourth year, Smith isn't thinking about contract talks right now. Even though he insisted that he would like to remain in Chicago. “That’s going to come when it comes,” Smith said. “I’m not too focused on that. My main focus right now is OTAs, getting out here with my teammates.” Last season, Smith led the Bears with 139 tackles, along with 18 tackles-for-loss, four sacks and two interceptions. He was named to the All-Pro second team, although there were many that believed he deserved a spot on the first team. While Smith doesn't care about personal accolades, he's even more motivated heading into 2021. Which should put the rest of the league on notice.

Allen Robinson didn't miss a beat in return to practice

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday's minicamp practice marked the return of wide receiver Allen Robinson to the practice field. And his presence was certainly felt. "It was really good," Nagy said. "Anytime you have that quality of player that shows back up and gets out here in the huddle and just that experience that he brings, he just has such a quiet calm and confidence to him that you could see the guys out there throwing him the football and the things he's doing, he just slides right on in." Nagy wasn't worried about Robinson being in shape for minicamp. And Robinson looked like he hadn't missed a step following another impressive 1,000-yard season. "The one sneaky thing about A-Rob that I think is pretty cool is that No. 1, even if he's not here, you know he's working his tail off," Nagy said. "But No. 2, he's always in great shape, and we noticed that today." Robinson remains without a long-term extension after the Bears placed the franchise tag on him earlier this offseason. The two sides have until July 15 to come to terms on an extension before Robinson plays out the 2021 season on the tag and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Eddie Jackson excited for Sean Desai to take over as defensive coordinator

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

X “I was happy, I was very excited,” Jackson said about his reaction to Desai’s promotion. “Just the relationship that me and Sean have, what he’s been through, he’s been the guy behind the scenes for a long time, even before I got here. Through the process of when I got here, that’s one of the guys who helped me most, of learning the plays, learning the scheme. So for him to get that type of promotion, it’s huge and I feel like it’s well deserved.” Jackson was also excited about the chance to play with fellow safety Tashaun Gipson for the second straight year. Jackson hasn't played with another safety for more than a year since Adrian Amos in 2018. “It's huge, it's huge,” Jackson said. “To come back and have that chemistry, man, it's huge, especially back there. It’s like having two guys on one tight rope with each other. I'm in his head, he's in my head. The type of athlete that Gip is, he brings a lot of stuff that we can use, me and him together, and also for the defense that Sean can use for disguise purposes. “I can play this role, he can play that role. We're both ready to take sacrifices to do what needs to be done to help this team win. But it's very huge and I'm excited.”

Marquise Goodwin emerging as deep threat

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

One player that was turning heads during Tuesday's practice was wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who the Bears signed earlier this offseason to bring more speed and experience to the offense. And from the sound of it, Goodwin has a good chance to be a speed threat for this Bears offense. https://twitter.com/Zack_Pearson/status/1404914201194287124?s=20 "I thought it was definitely an element that we have when you see some of the guys out there rolling with the speed," Nagy said. "That's that touchdown-to-touchdown mentality that we talk about, so it's nice to see that. There's a little bit of a disadvantage to the defense because [we practice] with no pads on out there. But we're trying to be able to take the top off [the defense] when we can." One of the highlights from Tuesday's practice was the deep-ball connection with Dalton and Goodwin, including this Dalton-to-Goodwin bomb that the Bears Twitter account shared. https://twitter.com/ChicagoBears/status/1404966960245350401?s=20 Chicago has some real speedsters at the wide receiver position, including Goodwin, Damiere Byrd and Darnell Mooney, who all have the potential to be real threats. But it's on the quarterback(s) to get them the ball.

Jackson explained why he's a big Fields fan

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone surely remembers Eddie Jackson's reaction to the Bears trading up to select Justin Fields on draft night. It seemed to echo the entire Bears fan base, which has been desperate for a franchise quarterback for most of, if not for their entire lives. Jackson was asked about why he's excited for the addition of Fields, which includes some of the intangibles that made Fields a top prospect in the draft. "Just watching him in college, I was a fan of him," Jackson said. "Just to see the leadership and the type of athleticism he brings...Just to have a young-fire quarterback like that, it's exciting. I'm just happy to compete and play with him."

1

1

1

1