Bears coach Matt Nagy pays such specific attention to his players’ on-field personalities that he created a mantra around the idea: ‘‘Be You.’’
So it was obvious to him — even watching on an iPad while in self-quarantine — that quarterback Justin Fields has brought his own mojo to the Bears’ huddle at rookie minicamp.
‘‘He’s got that serious look/mode to him every time he’s around,’’ Nagy said after Fields’ first practice Friday. ‘‘And then every once in a while you get that crack of a smile. I think he’s always got that competitive drive ingrained in him. I think that’s where he’s at all the time.’’
Fields has been in serious mode almost every second of the Bears’ two practices.
‘‘It’s not fun and games when we’re on the field,’’ offensive tackle Larry Borom, who trained with Fields before the draft, said Saturday. ‘‘It’s definitely 100% business. And he wants to do the job at the highest level that he can. I try to echo that with my play. . . .
‘‘It sets the tone for the whole offense. If you see your quarterback not messing around, it makes everyone else want to work 10 times harder.’’
Running back Khalil Herbert said he could tell Fields was having fun, even though he was ‘‘all business’’ during practices.
‘‘I think guys gravitate toward it and it spreads to guys in the locker room,’’ Herbert said. ‘‘We’re out there, and he’s locked in, dialed in, making sure we’ve got the calls, got the plays, got the cadence. And it definitely helps. I feel like it runs a lot smoother, knowing what we’ve gotta do, how to do it, to have that kind of clean, crisp mindset when we attack the line of scrimmage.’’
Fields has been serious in his preparation. To learn the Bears’ playbook, he has made himself a stack of index cards with the formation on one side and the name for it on the other. For a half-hour or 45 minutes after Zoom meetings the last two weeks, he has drilled himself. Learning play-call terminology, he said, has been the biggest challenge in his NFL adjustment.
In his first practice Friday, Fields saw a teammate run the wrong route — the coverage shifted at the line of scrimmage and the receiver didn’t adjust — and corrected him in ‘‘a coachable and teachable way,’’ Nagy said.
Those are all good signs. So was Fields’ confident — and serious — response when he was asked about his mentality after veteran Andy Dalton was named the starter.
‘‘I think everybody on our team should be striving for the starting job,’’ he said. ‘‘If you’re not, then there’s no reason for you to be here.’’
Practice Saturday was sloppier than it was Friday, Nagy said, in part because the Bears installed even more new plays to challenge players’ memory. Nagy spoke with Fields late Friday about making sure he connected with his teammates — using the right intonation, so as not to sound as though he’s reading a cue card — when calling plays in the huddle.
‘‘Every day that he gets out there, it’ll get better and better as he starts to really learn the intricacies of this offense,’’ Nagy said.
Ryan Day, Fields’ coach at Ohio State, said Fields ‘‘burns hot on the inside, but you can’t always see it.’’ That businesslike approach on the field has grabbed Nagy’s attention, too.
‘‘That’s the beauty of what makes everybody different at their positions and how they handle themselves,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It’s amazing, too, how people change when they’re off the field versus when they’re on the field. We just want them to be who they are.
‘‘And his competitive nature and his competitive spirit, you can tell, is the way that it is. It’s kind of always been that way.’’