The Bears and Dolphins’ second practice at Halas Hall couldn’t have been more different from the first one that began with a weather delay, forcing fans, players and coaches to seek shelter in the Walter Payton Center.
Most fans boarded buses and were escorted back to their vehicles while the Bears and Dolphins finished the practice once the rain finally stopped.
Thursday’s practice was full of sunshine. Hardly any clouds were in the sky. And fans were in the stands.
Here are some of my observations from the Bears’ second joint practice with the Dolphins.
1. Starting to heat up
It didn’t take long for the first fight to happen in Thursday’s practice. In a one-on-one blocking drill against the Bears’ outside linebackers and Dolphins’ tight ends on Field 4, Khalil Mack and former Bears tight end Adam Shaheen got into it after their rep and had to be separated. Mack wasn’t done though and continued to talk to Shaheen while the coaches from both teams tried to resume the drill.
Shortly after, Trevis Gipson and tight end Cethan Carter began to shove each other after Carter pinned Gipson to the ground. Gipson got even with Carter later in the drill and went right around him in the one-on-one pass rush drill.
On the opposite field, Cole Kmet caught a ball over the middle and was heading towards the right sideline. Safety Eric Rowe knocked Kmet off his feet and Kmet retaliated by getting up and shoving Rowe. Both teams came together and coaches diffused the situation.
There was also a skirmish when Jeremiah Attaochu ended up on the ground in the middle of the offensive and defensive linemen. One of the first players to run over in support was Mack, who was taking a breather on the play.
2. Bears defense forcing red-zone turnovers
In the red zone team drills against the Bears’ starting defense and Dolphins’ starting offense, it was defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s unit that set the tone. On the first play, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa mishandled the handoff exchange and Mack recovered the fumble and spiked the ball into the ground.
Two plays later, Jaylon Johnson intercepted Tagovailoa in the end zone on a pass that was behind the wide receiver.
The defense also forced Tagovailoa out of the pocket and the second-year quarterback scrambled towards the left sideline and flicked the ball out of bounds near the pylon that easily could’ve resulted in a safety.
3. Fields Day
Throughout the first 13 days of training camp, Justin Fields has made several plays that illustrate why the Bears moved up to select him with the 11th overall pick.
Thursday’s practice was Fields’ best day to date.
Fields carved up the Dolphins’ defense in the red zone drills on Field 3. In a six-play sequence, Fields threw three touchdown passes and ran one in for a touchdown himself towards the right part of the end zone. Fields also had a side-arm throw to Javon Wims for a two-point conversion.
But it wasn’t just in the red zone where Fields excelled. He also made several other plays throughout the practice, including completing a 15-plus yard throw to Jon’Vea Johnson with two defenders in the area. Fields threw the ball to a specific spot and Johnson came down the catch.
There was also a play where Fields’ patience was on full display. The offensive line gave Fields time to throw and he surveyed the field until he eventually found Riley Ridley over the middle. Fields remained calm in the pocket, trusted his blocking and delivered an accurate ball.
Other Quick Hits
- Bilal Nichols had two dominant pass rushes in a row against guard Solomon Kindley.
- Teez Tabor dislodged the football from Mike Gesicki’s hands in the end zone.
- Charles Snowden had a “win” in one-on-one pass rush drills against Jonathan Hubbard. Snowden dipped his shoulder and went right around Hubbard.
- Akiem Hicks forced Tagovailoa to throw the ball away into the dirt during the red zone period.
- Andy Dalton had one of his anticipatory throws to Damiere Byrd in team drills. Dalton threw to an area — despite a defensive back being in the vicinity — and trusted Byrd would be there to make the catch.
- The Bears first-team offensive line created an opening for Damien Williams and he broke off a nice run up the middle.
- Fields connected with a wide-open Jesse James for a touchdown.
- Kindle Vildor deflected a pass intended for Kirk Merritt in the end zone.