Breaking down Bears’ rookie class in training camp

Here’s what we’ve learned about the Bears’ first-year players in the first 10 days of training camp.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass July 31 during practice.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass July 31 during practice.

Nam Huh/AP

What we’ve learned about the Bears’ rookie class in the first 10 days of training camp:

QB Justin Fields (Round 1)

How rosy is the long-term projection for the Ohio State quarterback? This optimistic: Coach Matt Nagy was asked Friday whether he enjoyed Jimmy Graham comparing him to Seahawks superstar Russell Wilson.

“We understand how to temper that . . . how and what he’s saying,” Nagy said. “Is he saying he’s Russell Wilson? No. But he’s saying he has some qualities and possibilities to be like him. He has some traits that remind him of that. We love hearing that. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

“But Justin is going to be Justin Fields. He’s going to have his own way of what he wants to do.”

Nagy said he appreciates the comparison because “Russell’s a heck of a quarterback, and he’s had a lot of success and he’s a winner.” Fields may be able to say the same — but probably not soon. While his long-term outlook is promising, Fields’ short-term future figures to feature him holding a clipboard behind Andy Dalton to start the season.

OTs Teven Jenkins (Round 2) and Larry Borom (Round 5)

Jenkins has yet to play a training-camp snap because of a stiff back, an alarming development for a rookie who needs all the practice time at left tackle he can get. 

The only positive to come out of Jenkins’ injury — and the absences of Germain Ifedi (hip) and Elijah Wilkinson (reserve/COVID-19 list) — was the chance it gave Borom, a more natural right tackle, to try the position. 

And then Borom suffered a concussion during practice Thursday.

The Bears liked the way Borom played at left tackle two days earlier at Soldier Field. 

“That gives me the confidence that he’s in there in a dogfight for that left tackle position,” offensive line coach Juan Castillo said. 

The Bears would rather Jenkins run away with the job. But he has to take the field first.

RB/KR Khalil Herbert (Round 6)

Herbert, who returned 16 kicks for 430 yards at Virginia Tech last season, figures to get the first chance to replace Cordarrelle Patterson in the same role this season.

“Yeah, I always feel like I’m a top candidate, whatever I do,” Herbert said Friday.

Herbert’s first step in camp has been ball security — simply showing special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor that he won’t fumble. Preseason games will show exactly how well he can read blocks and run away from defenders.

As for his play on offense, running backs coach Michael Pitre called Herbert a “natural runner” who is “faster than sometimes people give him credit for.” On Friday, he looked tougher, too, muscling his way for a short-yardage touchdown.

WR Dazz Newsome (Round 6)

The Bears still aren’t sure what they have in Newsome, who broke his left collarbone early in OTAs and began training camp on the physically unable-to-perform list. He was activated Monday but hasn’t done much work in practice.

“I can really just speak about off the field for right now,” wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “He’s alert in meetings. It’s important to him. And so it will be fun to get him on the field.”

Furrey needs to see more in the next five weeks. After trading Anthony Miller, Newsome has an opportunity in the slot. But it’s hard to see him leapfrogging the Bears’ top four receivers: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin.

CB Thomas Graham Jr. (Round 6)

Second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has been friends with Graham since they were competitors in high school. His message to the rookie is simple: Forget the bad plays in training camp.

“He played with [Justin] Herbert [at Oregon], but you don’t play against too many top-level quarterbacks and top-level receivers day in and day out that are dropping good balls on you,” Johnson said. “It’s frustrating coming from college and not having that done to you too many times. . . .

“You can’t go back and change the play. Ain’t no point of keeping it in your memory bank. Chalk it up and keep going.”

Graham is still adjusting to the speed of NFL wide receivers. But if he can catch up quickly, he’s an intriguing option in the slot instead of Duke Shelley.

NT Khyiris Tonga (Round 7)

Offseason-program practices and training-camp walkthroughs are important for rookies. But when you’re a 6-4, 338-pound nose tackle, you can’t be judged until you put on pads. Tonga did that this week, getting extra snaps once Eddie Goldman was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

“You can’t go out there and say, ‘Hey, take it easy on me; I’m a seventh-round pick,’ ” defensive line coach Chris Rumph said. “But to see him play the physical part is impressive for a young guy.”

Tonga played a similar defensive front at BYU, which has helped his transition to the NFL. When he got frustrated this week, Rumph showed Tonga his own film from OTAs to explain just how far he has come.

“He’s like, ‘Coach, I don’t know how you put up with me, man — I was awful,’ ” Rumph said. “So it’s just really impressive to see his growth.”

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