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What Matt Eberflus said as the Chicago Bears closed mandatory minicamp

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - The Chicago Bears are through mandatory minicamp.

Caleb Williams got his first taste of the Bears' first-team defense across three days. That same first-team defense was completely back at Halas Hall for the first time since the end of the 2023 season.

There was plenty to take note of. Head coach Matt Eberflus noted it all.

Here are some of the takeaways from Eberflus as the Bears' mandatory minicamp came to a close Thursday.

On his impressions of the roster make up

General manager Ryan Poles was candid after the NFL Draft: this Bears team will be a difficult team to earn a roster spot on.

With so many new offensive weapons to assist on the offensive end, and the defense being comprised of home-grown talent that was drafted and developed at Halas Hall, Eberflus noted things are going to be different this time around in training camp.

"The roster is different, we're in a different spot," Eberflus said.

In past years, the Bears were looking for players that were going to stick. They wanted to find players who had the potential to develop into pieces for a playoff-caliber team.

Come training camp, this means Eberflus can focus his attention on some of the most important decisions he'll have to make.

"I think you can really home in on the battles," Eberflus said. "The roster is never perfect."

On the Bears' first-team defense

With this being a mandatory minicamp, Eberflus got a chance to see the full first-team defense play with each other for the first time since last season ended.

Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon and Montez Sweat were present, and it proved to be difficult for the first-team offense.

The defense was loud and raucous. They made sure the offense knew when they won a play over them. Eberflus is a fan of the energy, but he wants to make sure it carries over.

"I tell the players all the time: words are awesome," Eberflus said. "But it comes down to what we do on the grass."

The onus is on the Bears' defense. The unit that improved steadily as the 2023 season came to a close needs to prove it not only can take the next step but that it hasn't lost a step this offseason.

Eberflus is preaching it clearly: walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk.

"We got to be who we say we're going to be," Eberflus said. "Are really doing what we say we're doing."

On the rookies

Through the three days of minicamp, Eberflus talked about seeing the improvement in Caleb Williams.

That fed into the rest of the offense.

"We saw Caleb improve," Eberflus said. "We saw the offense get better and better."

One of the takeaways from watching Williams throw was his ability to consistently test the defense. By the third day of minicamp, he was threading and placing passes between defenders in the end zone.

Williams did not throw an interception on Thursday after throwing one on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"His game will go where it needs to be," Eberflus said. "He's progressed all the way across."

It goes beyond the No. 1 overall draft pick, too. The Bears' No. 9 overall pick impressed the staff the most.

"Rome really impressed us," Eberflus said.

<div>LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS - JUNE 05: Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears speaks during a news conference after the Chicago Bears mandatory minicamp at Halas Hall on June 05, 2024 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)</div>
LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS - JUNE 05: Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears speaks during a news conference after the Chicago Bears mandatory minicamp at Halas Hall on June 05, 2024 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

On minicamp injuries

Eberflus noted players like Kyler Gordon, Cole Kmet, Tyler Scott and Braxton Jones that did not practice were held out for precautionary reasons.

None of these players were nursing major injuries.

Gordon was held out with a sore lower back, and Eberflus wasn't sure when Gordon suffered the injury.

Eberflus said Gordon woke up with the soreness, but made sure to note it was "not a serious thing."

On what's next for the Bears

Next week, school's in session.

Eberflus said next week's voluntary OTAs will feature the rookie class remaining at Halas Hall. This includes Williams.

"Caleb will still be here," Eberflus said. "It's about relearning and installing."

This will be for rookies only, Ebeflus said. It'll be a walkthrough of "when exactly and how exactly" they'll go through the rest of the summer heading into training camp and the preseason.

It'll be an extra session of work for a rookie class that Eberflus was impressed by, from Williams down to Austin Booker.