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As Keenan Allen settles in with 1st new team in 11 years, he says chemistry with Chicago Bears QB Caleb Williams will be a process

On Keenan Allen’s first day of practice against the Chicago Bears defense, the veteran wide receiver witnessed the energy of a unit that returns many of its starters.

The celebratory shouts of defensive ends DeMarcus Walker and Montez Sweat rose above the Halas Hall practice fields Tuesday as the defense harassed quarterback Caleb Williams and the offense during a full-team, two-minute drill at veteran minicamp.

The 32-year-old Allen simultaneously offered his respect for the showing and was irritated by it.

“They look like a top-five defense. They sound like a top-five defense too,” Allen said. “Defenses are annoying, especially at practice. You just hear them every time they make a play. It’s hoo-rah, celebration. It’s guys running up and down the sideline. So it’s annoying.

“The offense, we get a first down, one guy just trots around, he comes back to the huddle. Everybody is like, ‘OK, what’s the next play?’ You don’t really see too much, ‘Yeeeaaahh!’ … So it is what it is. Their energy, the way they communicate, the way they get lined up, definitely high-class.”

Williams, Allen and the Bears offense had their moments, too, during the start of the three-day minicamp. They were sharp in the first full-team drill and in seven-on-sevens, except for a Kevin Byard interception on which Williams took two hitches and was late throwing over the middle, coach Matt Eberflus said.

But there’s an understanding that the chemistry still is developing among the rookie quarterback, a host of new skill players and a new offensive coordinator.

And that, Allen said, is a process.

“I would say somewhere in there between camp (it comes together),” Allen said. “When everybody starts to understand the chemistry, how the coach likes to call the play, how the quarterback is going to progress through it, the way he sees it and everybody getting to the spots that are most comfortable, where people are supposed to be.”

Photos: Inside Chicago Bears minicamp at Halas Hall

After the Bears acquired Allen in March from the Los Angeles Chargers for a fourth-round draft pick, Allen went to Williams’ USC pro day and to a workout with the quarterback before the draft. He also was at Halas Hall before organized team activities began, getting to know his new teammates with group outings around Chicago and running routes on air with Williams.

And Allen expects to go on a trip somewhere to train with Williams between now and training camp, noting how important it is to understand teammates’ energy, how to make them competitive and what makes them tick.

But after Allen sat out the first two weeks of OTAs, he is just beginning to understand his quarterback.

“He’s obviously a guy who has tremendous talent, but it’s going to be a work in progress,” Allen said. “He just came out of college. The huddle call, having new terminology. For myself, some of the plays are the same but the terminology is different. … So you’ve just got to mix and match it, and he’s going to have to grow to it. It takes a while.

“The offense as a whole, everybody is experienced pretty much at every position except the quarterback position. So as long as we’re all talking to him, we’re all on the same page, we’re all communicating at the same level, there should be no problem.”

There also will be an adjustment for Allen, who totaled all 10,530 of his career receiving yards for the Chargers since they drafted him in the third round in 2013.

Allen is a North Carolina native, but he settled 14 years ago in California — where he played in college for Cal — so moving to a new area of the country, with his family still back home, will be a change. And he also is getting to know the workings of a new team.

Eberflus is confident the latter won’t be too difficult.

“He is a guy that’s been in several offenses, so he’s had to adapt and adjust,” Eberflus said. “He’s played X (receiver) and he’s played Z and he’s played F and he’s been on the move and he’s done a lot of things. So his experiences really help him to come into this spot and embrace this city and embrace the fans.

“That’s really where he’s going to feel it the most because of the passion of this area and the fans. He’ll really feel that. That will be different. But in terms of adjusting to the offense or a position, I think he can do that.”

Allen’s situation is unusual in that he’s coming off a career season in which he totaled 1,243 receiving yards in 13 games — and now is entering a contract year with a new team.

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He said he plans to play football as long as he can, whether that’s with the Bears or another team. He doesn’t mind being in a prove-it year, noting that the wide receiver market “just got reset” with the four-year, $140 million contract Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson signed.

But it’s tough to answer questions about an extension in Chicago already, though general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t ruled one out.

“As far as an extension, I’m going to let the play speak for itself, and if they offer me something that I like, we’ll go from there,” Allen said.

The Bears certainly are optimistic about what Allen can do in a wide receivers group that includes DJ Moore and rookie Rome Odunze, a trio Allen believes will feed off each other.

And Eberflus believes Allen will help feed Williams’ growth too.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that he’s crafty,” Eberflus said. “He is so crafty with his route running. It seems like he’s always open, even when I used to double cover him. …

“He understands his body. He’s really friendly to the quarterback because he’s a really big target and he’s very good at what he does.”