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Bears camp first impressions: So far, so good — and bad

Andy Dalton looks like an upgrade. Justin Fields looks promising and exciting. But the Bears’ already makeshift offensive line could short-circuit an offensive surge before it even starts.

Even in mostly non-padded practices, Justin Fields’ speed looks like a weapon.
Even in mostly non-padded practices, Justin Fields’ speed looks like a weapon.
Nam Huh/AP

After a week of training camp, the Sun-Times’ Mark Potash breaks down what he’s seen:

Justin Fields has looked …

Like a rookie quarterback being introduced to the NFL. Fields has a lot to learn — any rookie quarterback does. But already you can see differences between him and Mitch Trubisky in 2017 — his first-step speed and acceleration and the velocity on those mid-range passes that need to be completed at a high percentage. .

But he’s not ready yet because …

It’s just too early. The rudimentary, non-padded phase of training camp accentuates Dalton’s biggest advantage over Fields — experience. Fields needs game speed to accelerate the process — how well he reacts, how well he learns. His rookie-year readiness shouldn’t be defined by what he’s done so far. Once the adrenaline starts pumping, we’ll see how ready he is.

What is the best development for the Bears so far?

Dalton looks like an upgrade — he’d already be the clear leader over Trubisky and Nick Foles if he were in that open competition last year. Dalton is unlikely to lift this offense on his shoulders and carry it to another level. But he appears better equipped to overcome hurdles that neither Trubisky nor Foles could last season, which could allow Nagy to turn to Fields when he wants to instead of when he has to.

What’s the worst?

The absence of Jenkins and Germain Ifedi. It’s questionable whether Jenkins and Ifedi would be an overall upgrade over proven veterans Charles Leno and Bobby Massie. But without them, the Bears are down to Wilkinson and Simmons. And with Wilkinson on the COVID-19 list, Borom was at left tackle. That’s not optimal.

Which under-the-radar player has caught your eye?

Second-year cornerback Kindle Vildor is going toe-to-toe with Desmond Trufant opposite Jaylon Johnson and holding his own. The Bears were excited about Vildor’s prospects this season after showing potential in spot duty last year and so far, he doesn’t look out of place. Still a long way to go, though.

What’s the shakiest part of the Bears’ plan for this season?

The focus is rightfully on the quarterbacks, but any Bears’ offensive surge begins with an improved offensive line, with a healthy James Daniels and two new tackles in Jenkins and Ifedi. If the Bears can’t block, they likely can’t run. And if they can’t run, any quarterback will struggle to make it work, including Fields. .

Which newcomer has been the most impressive?

Rookie running back Khalil Herbert didn’t look like a major need when he was drafted in the sixth round, but he already has shown the kind of versatility that could fill the Cohen role, with Cohen unlikely to be ready in Week 1. Herbert looks the part so far — effective with the ball in his hands anywhere on the field.