7 takeaways from the Bears’ 17th training camp practice

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The Chicago Bears returned to the practice field Thursday at Halas Hall for their final practice of the week ahead of Saturday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields made his return to practice, as did rookie offensive tackle Larry Borom. New left tackle Jason Peters also made his debut. The Bears held a light practice before an off day ahead of the second preseason game this weekend.

Following Thursday’s practice, here’s a look at what we learned from Day 17 of training camp:

The defense continues to dominate

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears defense appears in midseason form over the last week at training camp, where they've certainly ramped up the takeaways. Thursday was another dominant day by the defense -- both first and second teams. Safety Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe both came away with interceptions. Meanwhile, linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Jaylon Johnson also got a hand on some balls to force incompletions. https://twitter.com/Zack_Pearson/status/1428385100329259011?s=20 That's good news for a Bears defense looking to get back to its dominant 2018 form.

Justin Fields had a rough practice after day off

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Despite an impressive training camp where he's committed few mistakes, these last couple of practices have proven that Justin Fields is in fact human. More than that, he's actually a rookie. After missing Wednesday's practice with a sore groin, Fields returned Thursday, where the Bears held a light practice. But it was rough start for Fields, who tossed two interceptions early in practice -- one to safety Tashaun Gipson and one to linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe. Fields also could've had a third pick, as cornerback Jaylon Johnson got his hands on a ball. https://twitter.com/JasonLieser/status/1428370344985993216?s=20 https://twitter.com/JasonLieser/status/1428371114632359936?s=20 Fields wasn't helped by the four or so drops by his wide receivers. But it's the second consecutive rough practice for Fields, who struggled Tuesday before being sidelined with groin soreness on Wednesday. But the Bears want Fields to make mistakes in practice, not in games, when it counts. The true test is how Fields performs in Saturday's preseason game against the Bills, where he should once again see a good chunk of reps.

Jason Peters made his debut at practice

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears made the signing of perennial left tackle Jason Peters official on Monday, and he finally made his debut during Thursday's practice. Peters will participate in pregame drills Saturday, but he won't play until the preseason final Aug. 28 against the Tennessee Titans. Matt Nagy wants to give him time to feel healthy and learn the playbook before seeing live game action with the Bears. https://twitter.com/danwiederer/status/1428361406378692616?s=20 “I know that he’s in a good place right now mentally,” he said. “So, yeah, there’s excitement to get out there. Even talking to the younger guys, we got a young offensive line and they’re at a point right now where I think they’re kind of eager to learn from him and to see what kind of advice he has.” At this point, Peters is expected to be the Bears' starting left tackle for Week 1.

The battle at left tackle

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

While the signing of Jason Peters is a good indicator that he'll serve as the team's starting left tackle, Matt Nagy is leaving the competition at left tackle wide open. Peters, fifth-round rookie Larry Borom and Elijah Wilkinson will battle for the left tackle spot, where Peters figures to be the favorite given his experience. https://twitter.com/sean_hammond/status/1428357496662495240?s=20 On the second unofficial depth chart, the Bears have Wilkinson listed as the starting left tackle with Peters behind him. Interestingly enough, Borom is listed as the backup right tackle to Lachavious Simmons, who's filling in for an injured Germain Ifedi. Nagy still sees Borom as a left tackle, so there's a good chance, once Ifedi is back, Borom figures to be on the left side. But injuries to several offensive tackles certainly have shaken things up.

Preseason reps for Andy Dalton and Justin Fields

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Get ready to see a lot more Andy Dalton during Saturday's preseason game against the Bills. Dalton, who played just seven snaps in the opener, will play at least halfway through the second quarter. Then, Justin Fields will take over, where he figures to play into the fourth quarter. https://twitter.com/AdamHoge/status/1428356990938484744?s=20 There were some concerns about whether Fields would play in Saturday's game after he experienced some groin soreness. The Bears played it safe, having Fields sit out Wednesday's practice in an "extremely conservative" move. The good news is Fields returned to practice Thursday, which was a light practice. “Again, anything could happen,” Nagy said. “But I think [Wednesday] giving him the day off to help him was good and he feels good. ... We wanted to be able to sacrifice that day of practice to be able to get him right for Saturday.” Fields is coming off an impressive preseason debut against the Dolphins, where he completed 10-of-14 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, as well as five rushes for 33 yards and a score.

Roquan Smith not worried about contract extension right now

Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini

The Bears got some good news with the return of star linebacker Roquan Smith on Wednesday. Smith hadn't practiced since Aug. 6 with a groin injury. While there wasn't any real concern about his availability for the season opener, it's still nice to have him back practicing and perhaps see some snaps during Saturday's preseason game. Smith is coming off a breakout season, where he There's no doubt Smith is due for a contract extension -- and a massive one, given the market for the position with recent extensions. Naturally, the topic of a contract extension came up with the media following Thursday's practice. Smith revealed that he doesn't currently have an agent. When asked how he would negotiate his next contract, he said:

"I'll get there when I get there."

https://twitter.com/DickersonESPN/status/1428392013536374789?s=20 The Bears exercised Smith's fifth-year option, which means they have a little time before inking their star inside linebacker to a long-term deal.

The Bears are ready to face Mitch Trubisky

USA Today

Arguably the biggest storyline this weekend, not involving rookie quarterback Justin Fields, is the return of former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who will return to Soldier Field with the Bills. Trubisky never lived up to his No. 2 overall billing, and Chicago let him walk in free agency, where he went on to sign a one-year deal with Buffalo to backup Josh Allen. Despite things not working out, Bears head coach Matt Nagy wishes nothing but the best for Trubisky. “The respect that we have for him as both a person and as a player, I think everybody here has that for him, all his teammates and coaches,” Nagy said. “We wish him nothing but the best. When the game's going on we're going to do everything we can to stop him. When the game's over we're going to be friends and have good stories. That's the part of life in the NFL for all of us, but it is a relationship business and I think it's important that everyone understands that on our end we care about him as a person.” Trubisky will get the starting nod with Allen sitting out, which means Trubisky will face Chicago's starting defense. While Trubisky has a lot of friends on the Bears, that doesn't take away from the goal on Saturday, which is to stop Buffalo's offense with Trubisky at the helm. "Mitch is my guy," Eddie Jackson said. "Came in together. I'm just excited to go up against him. "But this weekend, like I said, I don't care if he's my cousin, my brother -- if you line up on that other side, we're going to give you that work. He's got it coming to him for sure.” [listicle id=478376]

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