It was a scary moment near the end of Saturday's Bears practice even if there will be plenty of similar moments in real games during the career of Justin Fields.
Fields was besieged throughout practice by the pass rush. On one play, the rush came through so hard the rookie quarterback was knocked to the ground. He seemed a bit more stunned than anything, and for good reason. There is no touching of the quarterback allowed in practice let alone knocking him to the ground, although in this case it wasn't like he had been clobbered but someone in a scrum made contact as he followed through.
This is why QBs wear a different vest over their jerseys.
Fields seemed fine afterward and was standing and talking with coach Matt Nagy.
While it's debatable whether Fields held the ball too long on some of the pass plays, what wasn't up for discussion was whether the pass blocking Saturday was good.
Without injured tackles Teven Jenkins (back) on the left side and Germain Ifedi (hip flexor) on the right side, the Bears are using Elijah Wilkinson at left tackle and Lachavious Simmons at right tackle with the first team. The second team line is entirely unsettled then, as well, with those who normally back up playing instead with starters.
Much of the heat on the second team against Fields was being applied by edge rushers Trevis Gipson, James Vaughters and Jeremiah Attaochu or interior rusher Angelo Blackson.
Starting left guard Cody Whitehair isn't worried about the line settling in even if the pass blocking looks shaky now. He's putting his trust in line coach Juan Castillo and assistant coach Donovan Raiola
"They'll have a good plan for us," Whitehair said. "The guys are working hard right now and that's just our main thing is throughout the training camp this time we just work on getting better every day; fundamentals, technique, all that stuff, we’re just working on that every day and that will carry over and help us become a better team."
The Bears haven't said Tuesday is a return date for Jenkins but coach Matt Nagy has indicated he's anxious to see Jenkins practice in pads. Nagy said the first padded practice is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Soldier Field following Sunday's day off and a Monday morning practice at Halas Hall.
It's going to take Jenkins time to settle in, as well. He didn't play the left side full time in college so he needs work.
"The more you play a position, the more comfortable you get," Whitehair said.
Whitehair recalled his first time practicing in pads.
"I'll say this: One of my first days in pads, I got my 'Welcome to the NFL' by (Bears nose tackle) Eddie Goldman," Whitehair said. "The game does go faster. People are flying around out there. It feels good to be back in pads.
"We haven't been in pads for sixth months. You have to make sure that they're ready to get hit and deliver some blows, too."
So Goldman put Whitehair on his rear end?
"I don't know if he put me on my butt, but he definitely gave me a little welcome," Whitehair said.
The sooner they can get Jenkins back and settle the offensive line down with both the first and second units, the quicker they won't need to worry about Fields being knocked on his rear end.
The Bears continue looking at different possibilities in the secondary.
Although the nickel cornerback spot was originally billed as a battle between Duke Shelley and rookie Thomas Graham Jr., on Friday and Saturday a new entry emerged. Former Rams safety Marqui Christian played with the starters while Shelley was with backups and Graham the third team.
Besides being a safety, Christian played the slot with the Rams in parts of two seasons.
The Takeaway Bucket
The Bears have been using a "takeaway bucket" as a way to get the defense fired up about turnovers. Whenever there is a turnover, the defense rushes the blue container onto the field and drops the football in it.
Deon Bush intercepted a deep throw by Andy Dalton Saturday and the defense ran to the end zone to celebrate. They brought the "bucket," which is nothing more than a rectangular plastic blue container but it has one advantage. It has wheels under it so they were able to roll it all the way to the end zone with them while they ran, and dropped the football in it to the chagrin of the offense.
Defensive coordinator Sean Desai will even roll out onto the field with what looks like a clothes hamper on wheels.
"Usually, every day the first person to get the turnover, he's (Desai) usually the first one to go out there," Graham Jr. said. "He's comin' and he said he's gonna match our energy.
"Having a coach that's energetic just for us when we make a play is even better because it makes you want to keep making plays for us."
Defensive end Bilal Nichols almost got a pick on a screen pass Saturday. Nichols made his first interception last year against Detroit, but didn't have the hands to finish this one in practice.
"Ah man, I've got to get on the JUGS (machine), that's what happened," he said. "I just read the screen. I take good pride in recognizing plays, making sure my recognition is there. I just kinda read it and just went for it. Next time I'm going to catch it, though."
The linemen enjoy the bucket as much as the defensive backs.
"It gives us an incentive, it gives us energy," Nichols said. "Because when you get that turnover, you want to run to that blue bucket because you want to show everybody what you can do.
"It's just something to keep us going, keep us excited. It's hard to get a turnover in the NFL. They don’t come easy. So when you get them, you've got to celebrate them."
Expect the blue turnover bucket on the sidelines at Soldier Field on game day.
- During some second-team snaps, cornerback Artie Burns got in with the backups at left cornerback. The battle so far has been Kindle Vildor and Desmond Trufant. However, they had Vildor playing right cornerback at that point in place of Jaylon Johnson, so Burns was next up. Burns is coming off a torn ACL.
- Gipson seems to be asserting himself more in his second season and second training camp, but first year with an offseason of on-field work. Besides applying good heat on Fields, the Bears tried one end-around type of play and when Marquise Goodwin came around the corner, Gipson had come around a pack of blockers and was there to stop him for a loss.
Jimmy Graham had Saturday's practice as a veteran's day off. It didn't keep his name from cropping up in talk about basketball, of all things.
Graham was a college basketball player and uses his skills often to take the ball from someone in a jump ball situation. He did it to Duke Shelley on Friday.
"We always talked about, we joke around in our offensive meetings every now and then in some downtime about who our starting five would be in basketball in that (offensive) room," Nagy said. "We all certainly know that Jimmy, his basketball background helps him out a lot at the tight end position."
The other five: Graham was the center, Javon Wims, Allen Robinson, Nick Foles and reserve receiver Thomas Ives.
"They had Folesy running point," Nagy said.
Foles played point guard in high school basketball.
"They say he’s sneaky good," Nagy said.
Tarik Cohen apparently was doing much of the basketball trash talk and player appointment to this dream team. Nagy said Cohen had Marquise Goodwin as the sixth man, "...because the defense would be like a gnat, just all over people."
It wasn't the only dream team discussed Saturday by the Bears. Goodwin, the former U.S. Olympian long jumper, had to come up with a dream 400-meter Bears relay team for media members.
Himself, Darnell Mooney and Damiere Byrd were naturals.
The final one?
"Let's just say Justin. That was a nice one!" Goodwin said.
Fields ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash so he wouldn't be totally outclassed by the other three, who were at 4.3s or better even if he probably is better suited to the javelin as a quarterback.