The Chicago Bears concluded their three day rookie minicamp on Sunday at Halas Hall. Along with their seven draft picks, there was a big group of undrafted free agents and tryout players hoping to make an impression on Matt Nagy and his staff.
There was media availability on all three days of minicamp and we got some insight of what went down inside the Walter Payton Center.
Matt Nagy said “it’s definitely a possibility” that rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller could return kicks. Miller has some experience with fielding kickoffs and punts at Memphis and he definitely has the speed to take it to the house.
One reason drafting Miller was a great choice by Ryan Pace is the versatility he bring to the offense. He can line up wide, in the slot, block, RPO’s and be a factor in gadget plays (jet sweep, reverse). Miller was added to an already impressive offensive group before the draft and he brings it to another level. Nagy will be able to get creative on game day and everyone is going to have a role.
Another interesting nugget from about Miller from the weekend was when he spoke to reporters on Saturday. He said “you can’t be a pretty boy” when asked about blocking at receiver. Also, the second round pick said his foot feels a 100% which is a sigh of relief. The Bears limited him to individuals drills as he continues his recovery.
Nagy said special teams coach Chris Tabor will decide if Miller will field kicks. The Bears have a solid group of guys already who could make an impact on specials teams. Benny Cunningham, Tarik Cohen, and Eddie Jackson all have experience returning kicks and punts. What’s one more? Special teams can change the game and the more options the Bears have, the better.
Roquan Smith spoke with reporters on Friday and addressed his car being broken into among other things. He had an opening statement prepared.
“I just wanted to let you know a few things that happened about a week ago,” Smith told a room full of reporters. “The incident with my car, everything happens for a reason. … I learned from it. And I’m just grateful for the police in Athens (Ga.) and also in Summerville (Ga.) for doing what they did.”
While there was no big hits or pick six’s this weekend, or at least that we know of, Nagy spoke highly of Smith. “He’s a quick study and a quick learner.” The first year Bears coach says he will keep a close eye on how Smith has command in the huddle and his leadership on the defense.
Smith has a big target on his back. After all of his success at Georgia, there are very high expectations for the eighth overall pick. But he knows that.“I know what I can do and I’m confident in my abilities,” he said. “I’ll showcase what I can do. I can’t make things up. I am who I am.”
The Bears start their optional team activity practices on May 15 and wrap it up on June 1st. Media availability will be on the 16th, 23rd, and the 30th. It is the next step for Smith and all the other rookies to practice with the veterans and continue their development.
“The only thing I can control is the future,” said undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Kevin Toliver.
Toliver left LSU a year early to pursue his NFL dream. Standing at 6′ 2″, 192 pounds, the former Tiger is an extremely gifted athlete. His physicality and ball skills are pro ready, but he has a tall mountain to climb if he wants to make the Bears roster.
Everyone knows of Toliver’s questionable character and that could limit him from making an NFL roster, but he is dialed in to show his ability on the field.“I know what I can do. I know how I play. I know what I can do on the field. I’ve just gotta do that and come out here every day and play 110 percent.”
Nagy mentioned Toliver on Friday and said ” he made a few plays on the ball.” Even though they are just in shorts, making plays will catch the attention of the staff.
“Here’s a kid that’s very talented. And you can see he has good size. For him, it’s going to be a matter of understanding what we’re looking for in him and knowing it’s a great opportunity with us on this team… When you make plays like he did today, it does nothing but help him.”
James Daniels is bonding with Kyle Long over the popular video game Fortnite. Video games do have that power now a days to bring people together. Wonder who wins between these two and Tarik Cohen?
One of Mark Grote’s takeaways from the first day at Halas Hall was the first step quickness and speed of rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts. Fitts could become a great player for the Bears if he stays healthy and continues to mold his game. We saw flashes at Utah and some solid drill work at the Senior Bowl. I expect him to be in the outside linebacker rotation come week one.
7th round selection Javon Wims said he is not just a “jump ball guy.” Standing at 6′ 4″, many would automatically put that tag on him but knows he can do more.
Wims has a big climb ahead to make the roster. The Bears will probably only keep six receivers and if you are not a starter, you have to be able to cover kicks and punts. I liked the pick and he can be another weapon for Mitchell Trubiksy, but he has to make plays on specials teams along with catching balls.
On Thursday night, former Bears spoke to the group about what it meant to play for the Bears and making the most of their opportunity. Alex Brown, Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, Marcus Robinson, Charles Tillman, Bob Wetoska and James “Big Cat” Williams were the alum invited by coach Nagy to speak with the group.
One quote that stuck out to me and probably many of the men at Halas Hall came from 1986 Super Bowl champion Steve McMichael. “There’s three ways to get on the unfailing road in life,” McMichael said. “You show up early, you pay attention and you work your butt off. Now if you’re about them three things, you’re going to be a success—in life, not just football.”
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