How Claypool can help Fields, Bears' offense take next step originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Justin Fields did his best to contain his excitement Wednesday when asked about the Bears' trade for wide receiver Chase Claypool. The second-year quarterback dodged a question about what the deal says about the Bears' belief in him.
Fields is always even-keeled. But he let a little bit of his enthusiasm show through before heading out to the practice field to get acquainted with his new weapon.
"I was excited, of course," Fields said. "He’s a play-maker, a big body, athletic, fast. A great 50/50 ball catcher. I was excited, of course. And just seeing what he can do at practice, the different things that we do at practice, the routes that we give him. Just practicing with him and getting to throw with him a little bit, that will just help me find out what he’s best at doing."
On Tuesday, Bears general manager Ryan Poles signaled that the decision to acquire Claypool for a 2023 second-round pick was about helping Fields continue to grow and build on his recent development.
"As a quarterback, and you all know where I come from, you can never have enough weapons and guys that help your quarterback gain confidence," Poles said." I know a lot of the guys are starting to make plays for us. Adding another receiver is going to allow him to continue to grow and gain that confidence."
Buy why Claypool?
The Bears already have a big-body, jump-ball threat in N'Keal Harry. But there's no worry about Harry and Claypool being redundant. They both have skill sets and measurables that Poles and head coach Matt Eberlfus covet in wide receivers.
“Yeah, we like big targets because they’re viable on third down, situations, gold zone, those guys are viable and they’re always open because of their catch radius," Eberflus said Wednesday. "So we were certainly like that with a lot of other guys, so you have bigger targets in the gold zone, so we’re excited about that.”
Fields is excited about the addition of Claypool. How could he not be? The young signal-caller is a prolific deep-ball thrower who now has an efficient go-route runner to go up and get balls down the field. In theory, the Fields-Claypool combination is an explosive play waiting to happen.
But Fields knows it's not that simple.
"Of course, gotta go through the same reads, you've gotta play off the defense," Fields said about staying even-keeled and containing his excitement about Claypool. "It's not high school football where you just get a bigger, better receiver where you can just look off the safety and throw it one-on-one down the field."
It will take time for Claypool to get on the same page with Fields and become well-versed in the Bears' playbook.
But the 24-year-old wide receiver knows what he is capable of and that he can bring something special to the Bears' offense.
That's why he's here, after all.
"I'm a playmaker and I'm excited to make plays," Claypool said Wednesday. "I feel like I didn't have the full opportunity to show what I can do this year, but I think I've been able to show that in the past. I'm excited to be able to gain that trust with Justin, too, where he knows if he needs a play, he can come to me and, frankly, any receiver out there. So … a dynamic, playmaker is the guy that the Bears are getting."
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