The Chicago Bears were back at practice Wednesday at Halas Hall after the NFL stripped them of Tuesday’s practice for violating league rules that prohibit live contact.
Along with explanations from players and coach Matt Eberflus about those violations, here are four things we heard as the Bears wrap up their third week of organized team activities.
Eberflus said early on that they planned to test players at different spots on the offensive line during offseason practices, and he showed that Wednesday.
The Bears started practices in May with Larry Borom at left tackle and Teven Jenkins on the right side. But Borom, who started eight games at right tackle as a rookie last season, was back on the right side Wednesday. Jenkins, a 2021 second-round pick, took reps at second-team right tackle while Jones got experience with the first team.
“We’re just trying to find the best combinations of people, especially when you’re looking at the offensive line,” Eberflus said. “Who’s the best five guys out there so we can succeed? And it creates competition when you do that, when you’re moving guys around. Who can function at different spots and who can really execute?”
The Bears drafted Jones out of Southern Utah in the fifth round after he started 11 games at left tackle in his final college season.
“Braxton is a tough kid, very athletic,” Bears guard Cody Whitehair said. “He’s got really long arms as well. He’s learning. As hard as that is to be thrown in the fire like that, I feel like he has responded well and I’m excited to see what he can bring.”
Eberflus has been hesitant to provide reasons for individual absences during OTAs, but he did say Gordon was in the building this week.
Safety Eddie Jackson and edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad were present at the Walter Payton Center but didn’t participate on the field. Edge rusher Robert Quinn, who has not been spotted during OTAs, again was absent. The Bears have a mandatory minicamp next week.
With Gordon out, Jaylon Johnson was back with the first-team defense after Eberflus had played him on the second team two weeks ago. Eberflus said then not to read too much into the grouping.
“We were just assessing him where he was, and he’s done a great job with that,” Eberflus said Wednesday. “He’s learned the defense. It takes him a while to learn the defense because he just was coming in, so that it takes a couple of days to figure out: ‘Hey, what is this call? What is that call?’ And he’s done a great job. I played really good today.”
Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson had a pair of interceptions against Fields, including one during a two-minute drill in which Fields’ pass glanced off the hands of wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Johnson also had a nice pass breakup.
But Eberflus said it was a different story Monday, when the offense had an “outstanding day” with 11 chunk passes and one chunk run.
“That’s going to happen during the course of the game, so we understand that and I’ll talk to the players about this,” Eberflus said. “Sometimes it’s, ‘Hey, that team has a really good offense,’ so our defense is really going to have to step up and play while our offense is going to have to dominate that game or vice versa.”
Jones was upbeat about his first couple of months with the Bears after signing a two-year, $12 million contract to be their three-technique defensive tackle. He is enjoying getting to know a young group of defensive linemen — and he also feels like he fits well within Eberflus’ defense.
“It’s that penetrating three-technique, get off the ball and really just effort,” Jones said. “That’s kind of the staple of my game… flying around, making tackles and making plays and being disruptive. I feel like I fit in. I feel like I’m at home in this scheme.”
Eberflus said the Bears had “visual evidence” from Jones’ time with the Los Angeles Chargers that he would fit the role. And Eberflus has been pleased with what he has seen.
“I love the athletic ability, I love the man, I love his attitude,” Eberflus said. “He’s working super hard, and again, the evaluation will continue to go all the way through training camp.
“When we put the pads on, then we get our true evaluation. But where he is right now, we are extremely excited about that.”