Chicago Bears Rookie Camp 2024

Expectations very high after 2024 NFL Draft.

The Chicago Bears held a mini camp for the 2024 draftees and the some hopefuls among the undrafted players are vying for long shot at making the team.

There was a little moment on Saturday that spoke volumes and should have Bears fans excited that the team chose well. Caleb Williams was lobbing 25 to 30-yard passes at wide receivers running a sideline route. Nearly every throw was on target, with the receiver barely having to break stride and simply reaching up to snag the balls out of the air. Williams was heaving the balls with the ease of someone playing catch a fifteen feet away.

Coach Matt Ebereflus was standing right behind his prized draftee, probably smiling on the inside.

Williams met with the media and discussed his goals for the two-day event. “For me,” He said, “I’m still learning everybody’s names. Diving into the playbook. Getting to a point where there’s certain things that I can teach some of the guys that maybe it’s John Jack (former SC teammate Jackson) or Rome (Udonze) that they’re not understanding that I may understand. So being able to teach is always big, because it’s also another way for you to learn.

“It also shows you how much that you know, and so I would take those and then just being around the guys, enjoying the time together, getting on the field, executing and being even-keeled throughout the whole thing, because I’m gonna make mistakes and I don’t really like mistakes, and messing up and I know there’s a bunch of guys that are going to be in the same position as me. Being in that position and being even-keeled and being in control, cool, calm and collected not only helps me but also all the other guys on the field.”

Odunze talked about developing chemistry with Caleb. “I think it’s the time you put into it. It takes time and reps to continue to build that connection with any quarterback and within the offense. Gaining that comfortability with one another, going through those reps and talking through things and trying to get feedback on what each other are thinking on each and every play I think is pivotal to it.”

Rome Odunze – photo by SRN Broadcasting

“Yeah, he is very talented. You know I got to see that when I was playing against him in college. It’s really effortless for him. You know he could do a lot of things that older quarterbacks may think is hard, effortlessly.”

– Rome Odunze on catching passes from Caleb Williams

Coach Matt Eberflus laid out his goals for Williams. “Operation of the offense but understanding of the concepts. We have a plan in place and the concepts that we’re going to get taught through the offseason and leading into the summer. We’ll have a plan for the summer and leading into training camp. Full understanding of the concepts – run, pass, checks and his fundamentals. The fundamentals that we have in place for him, which he’s really good fundamentally but we have some things we want him to work on and improve as well.”

“It’s really a great opportunity. It’s refreshing to be able to do that I know the whole building’s excited about working together, not only with Caleb but with everybody. It’s certainly nice to have that fresh start.”

– On getting a fresh start with Caleb Williams

Fifth-round draft pick Aaron Booker was asked how does seeing what the Bears want you to do mix with what you already know? His response. “Back in high school I was a three point (stance). I haven’t been a three point since then. Here and there a little bit in college but just getting back into that groove of things. But at the same time, it’s the same thing – you’ve got to get off the ball, you’ve got to use your hands, you’re going to have to have great pad level. Like you said, there are some things that relate but also getting in that groove, getting in that three point again has been a coaching point.”

Punter Tory Taylor cut his teeth in Australian Rules Football, and picked up an American pigskin only half a decade ago. “Australian rules football is a lot bigger so the sweet spot is a lot bigger,” said Taylor. “So it’s obviously the American football is a lot harder to consistently hit. I started punting, it would have been about five years ago. Yeah, I joined Prokick Australia in, I think it was July 2019, so yeah, just under five years. So like I said at the start,  a lot has happened since then.”

The kicking style did not come naturally. “I mean, hitting like an end-over-end drop punt, yeah, that’s something that I’ve been doing for yeah, like I said, for quite a while growing up but trying to I guess learn how to perfect like an open-field spiral punt certainly took a lot of time and a lot of reps and my coaches back home, Nathan Chapman and John Smith from Prokick Australia, two of the best. I mean, the fact that they’ve had so many Aussie guys over here playing college football and now a few of us in the NFL. Yeah, learning from those guys really helped.”

Eberflus made it abundantly clear that Williams is the starter, number one QB on the depth chart.  He added, “I think Shane (OC Waldron) and the offensive staff have done an outstanding job of that thus far putting that foundation in and making sure that it’s likable, learnable and it can get executed. And we’re excited about beginning that process.”

OTA’s begin May 20th. Several of the hopefuls were signed after minicamp, including Williams’ Trojan teammate Jackson.

WR, John Jackson, DB, Leon Jones, DT,  Dashaun Mallory, LB, Paul Moala, WR, Freddie Swain, and TE, Tommy Sweeney.