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Schrock: originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Caleb Williams didn't arrive at Halas Hall expecting to light up a top-five defense from the jump. He knew there would be learning moments. He has relied on the backing the Bears have put around him to feel his way through the early rough parts while never straying from his lofty personal goals.

“First, I ask questions," Williams said Thursday after the final practice of Bears mandatory minicamp. "I ask questions to Coach. I ask about my progression, I ask where he wants me to be, where I should be, and then obviously, I have my own goal set for myself, and that’s to be perfect. Obviously, you strive for something like that, and you don’t ever reach it, but you keep striving for it. Whether it’s a day that I like or a day that I don’t, there’s always good and bad in it, so just finding my balance and reaching and striving for my goal. And a big part of it is just sticking to the routine, enjoying the process, enjoying my teammates, being a good teammate, going out there and working my tail off."

Williams praised the Bears for the infrastructure they have put around him. The rookie quarterback lauded Keenan Allen, DJ Moore, and D'Andre Swift, among others, for helping encourage him and back him whether he has a good or bad day on the practice field.

"Them just believing, seeing the vision that we all have and being graceful with me, knowing that I’m pretty tough on myself, but they see right through it and understand that," Williams said. "It’s been big for me, like I said, having these guys around me and them being graceful - texting me, reaching out, calling me. From the practice field coming over congratulating me when things go good and when things don’t go our way or whatever the case may be, coming over and saying whatever they have to say and being encouraging."

The Bears' defense has made it their goal to confuse Williams early on, constantly disguising their looks to give the rookie a real feel for what it will be like on Sundays.

That has led to some bumpy days for Williams against the vocal Bears defense.

But the No. 1 overall pick is a quick learner and has shown impressive progress during the last few weeks.

"I thought from Day 1 he has definitely gotten better with it," linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "You definitely see some things that you don't really expect from a rookie to do. You know, he moved us a couple times with his eyes. The first day, it had me and Tremaine hot about it, but he's impressive for sure. He's just like everybody. He's going to continue to get better and he's going to handle it well."

"You can tell that he has something in his notebook every single day," safety Jaquan Brisker said. "He's really focused and locked in on his tools and his technique. He doesn't let the outside noise affect him, which is good. He comes in every day and works very hard. You can tell he's going through his progressions and things like that. He's going through the right reads. Every single day it's going quicker so he's catching up."

Eberflus praised Williams' quick processing Thursday, noting that the rookie has been quickly moving through his progressions and finding the open space.

The Bears head coach acknowledged that some teams might mix things up in practice and give the rookie quarterback some reps against the second-team defense. That's not how the Bears plan to do things with Williams. They believe in his ability and want to bring the best out of him immediately.

'We could do things differently where I say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have the ones go against the twos, and the twos go against the ones.’ But I don’t like that. I don’t like it," Eberflus said. "I think that Caleb is a talent. A very good talent. His game will go to where it needs to be. I want him to see that in front of him, the windows closing, the variation of what we do on defense, and I want him to see that day in and day out so that when he gets to play somebody else, it will look, ‘OK, I’ve been there done that.’"

That plan of attack works for Williams, who said Thursday that "being the Bears quarterback is good" for him.

“I didn’t come in necessarily with the expectation to be and seem like a 13-year vet," Williams said. "I came in to work, to work my tail off, show the guys that I’m here, I’m working my tail off, I’m progressing and trying not to make the same mistake again. That’s the biggest thing, day in and day out, is trying not to make the same mistake over and over and learn from them. That’s been my biggest thing for me. And also understanding that I’m leading an organization and a team, so just having that mindset and being in that mind state and just trying to find my flow.”

Williams' biggest learning curve has been working on his cadence. The Bears' offense has had numerous pre-snap penalties during OTAs and minicamp. Williams hasn't worked with a vocal cadence since high school. He worked with a clap cadence during his three years in college.

The Bears are working to help Williams find his voice, which includes walk-throughs inside Halas Hall where the quarterback works on his inflection and vocalization while defensive tackle Andrew Billings uses a "move" call to get the offensive line to false start.

Williams' cadence mastery is a work in progress, one the Bears don't expect to be polished until sometime into training camp.

“Just finding the green line," Williams said about learning the cadence. "It’s right in the middle of where we need it so everybody can be on the same page. That’s the biggest thing, so that the center can hear me, the right tackle, left tackle, right guard, the back, left guard, wide receiver, everybody can hear me. It’s just finding the balance between it all, not being too loud on certain plays and things like that, not being voice too low, so just working practice-wise, just working through it."

Williams finished mandatory minicamp with several surgical touchdown throws during 7-on-7 work, but he and the offense could not find the end zone during the final 11-on-11 red zone period of camp.

Still, Thursday's practice was evidence of the incremental progress Williams and the Bears are seeing on a daily basis.

"I feel that progression-wise going through all the reads, throwing a little better with anticipation, getting get more reps with the wide receivers, that obviously helps," Williams said. "So with all the reps that we’ve been able to get and obtain, it’s been huge. So just like today, I feel like progression-wise, being able to throw a little bit more anticipation was a little small step for me."

The next small step for Williams will come next week when the Bears hold their final OTA of the offseason, which Eberflus dubbed a "quarterback school" for Williams.

After that, he'll break for the summer with a checklist of things to work on before arriving back at Halas Hall for training camp and a continued NFL education.

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