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Bears veterans deliver vital message to Caleb Williams after tough OTA practice

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — DJ Moore called Thursday’s practice at OTAs “frustrating” for the Bears’ offense as the defense suffocated rookie quarterback Caleb Williams and the passing attack.

There’s no point in tallying up Williams’ completions and attempts in May. It was a tough day at the office for the No. 1 overall pick — one that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it also highlighted how cohesive the long-term vision is at Halas Hall.

The Bears’ defense understands it will play a key role in sharpening Williams for his rookie season. They plan to give the rookie hell every day on the back fields to ensure he is fully prepared for everything coming his way Sunday.

As the defense dominated Williams and the offense Thursday, veteran safety Kevin Byard made sure to tell the rookie quarterback that this would pay off in the long run.

“I said something to him at the end of practice: Keep going, we’re gonna keep making you better,” Byard said Thursday. “Not necessarily saying that he had a terrible day, but like days like this are gonna make you better. So that’s our job, and like I said, obviously, just the first three days of practice, he’s done a lot of positive things. He’s made some really great throws. Just coming in with that swag as a rookie quarterback, he doesn’t seem flustered by anything, so that’s exciting to see.”

Byard said that Williams and the offense diced them up early in the week, and his message to the rookie quarterback will remain consistent no matter who wins the day in practice.

“Sometimes it’s going to be back and forth, and that’s how the season is going to be, week to week,” Byard said about his message to Williams about his practice struggles. “Every week is not going to be great. Some weeks, we’re going to have to do a two-minute drill; he’s going to have to go win us a game. Some weeks, we’re going to blow people out. Sometimes it’s not going to be like that.

“So I would just kind of tell him, like, hey, days like this, just keep fighting, keep going, watch the film, get better. And that’s for everyone on the team. Everything is not going to be peaches and cream. You know what I’m saying? But like I like his confidence and he kind of just looked me straight in the eye and said ‘of course I will,’ and that was good to see.”

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Moore saw the offseason trade of Justin Fields coming.

This will be the first time in his career that he plays with a rookie quarterback, and Moore is prepared for the ebbs and flows that come with that.

“Right now, we’re all just getting used to each other,” Moore said. “We all have to learn a new offense right now. With him, you just have to know that the growing pains are going to be there. For a rookie – I think he’s 22? 23? – so you know you’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to accomplish in such a short amount of time.”

Growing pains aside, Moore has been impressed with how Williams has responded to early NFL lessons delivered by the Bears’ defense.

“You can see that the natural leadership is there, the natural arm talent is there,” Moore said. “Everything about him, it’s just always a positive thing. Even when he has a bad play, he’s looking to learn real fast right after. That’s all you can ask of him, for him to quickly forget but also learn at the same time.”

The Bears have created a detailed development plan for Williams to follow. Daily battles with a near-elite defense might be the best thing for the rookie quarterback’s long-term development.

With the quarterback drama long settled, Moore is willing to do whatever is necessary to help get Williams to where the Bears need him to be.

“We’re going to ride through h-e-l-l and back with him, so I’m just looking forward to seeing what he puts out,” Moore said.

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