The Chicago Bears returned to practice Wednesday at Halas Hall, eager to build on their 19-10 season-opening upset of the San Francisco 49ers.
Thhe Bears hit the road this week to face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. The rivalry game offers the Bears a chance to improve to 2-0 and put a two-game cushion between them and the Packers.
Here’s what else we learned Wednesday in Lake Forest.
Fields probably won’t win many more games in which he completes only eight passes and throws for fewer than 125 yards. Sunday’s wet conditions obviously factored into his early struggles. And those struggles were pronounced in the first half, when he posted a 2.8 passer rating and completed only 3 of 9 attempts for 19 yards.
But when Bears coach Matt Eberflus was asked Wednesday what impressed him most about Fields’ 2022 debut and can be carried forward, he quickly highlighted the second-year quarterback’s mental toughness.
The lack of early offensive production, Eberflus noted, didn’t shake Fields. The ugly weather didn’t either.
“He was able to move all those things aside,” Eberflus said, “figuring out how he was going to grip the ball better, how he was going to operate and then figuring out the game as the game went on and moving the ball down the field.
“What an outstanding thing for a young quarterback to have that mental toughness, with all of those things going on and to be able to (have a) laser-like focus and get the job done.”
Eberflus talks often with his players about “the cycle of the snap,” reminding them to treat every play as its own entity, independent of anything that has come before or will come after. Fields seems to have a handle on that concept and has shown the steadiness to work through difficulties.
“That’s an important piece for him and for every player on our team,” Eberflus said. “You just turn the page. You only play one play at a time and you can’t play them all at once. And there are going to be six or seven plays that come in each game that make a difference, and we don’t know when those are. That’s why you have to be focused within every single play.
“I think that was in his mind. That’s what he did the whole game.”
Fields has emphasized the importance of his composure for the entire group. He said the offense’s overall energy after the rough start was remarkably strong at halftime.
“Everybody was so positive,” he said. “(Offensive coordinator) Luke (Getsy) had a smile on his face at halftime. I think just that little body language brought everybody to their feet and kind of encouraged everybody to come out differently in the second half.”
The Bears responded with three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half to turn a 10-point deficit into a two-score win.
Patrick was designated as the Bears’ honorary captain for Week 2 as he prepares to head to Green Bay, where he spent the first six seasons of his career. He acknowledged that storyline after practice and noted his familiarity with the setting.
“I definitely know where the play clock is. I definitely know where the scoreboard is,” Patrick said. “I understand the stadium runs north to south, just off Oneida Street across from the Rev Center. So when we’re pulling up, I can kind of circumnavigate myself to find the place if the bus gets lost.”
Patrick played 27 snaps at right guard in the Week 1 win over the 49ers, splitting time with Teven Jenkins. He’s working his way back from surgery on his right hand early in training camp. But Patrick is feeling better with each week and each practice and, for now, remains comfortable with whatever rotation the Bears use.
He expects to feel a few added emotions before kickoff Sunday.
“Speaking honestly, probably a lot of gratitude,” Patrick said. “I’m not going to sit here and bash (that) organization because I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the opportunity afforded to me.
“I had a lot of memories there with close family and friends. I know you guys probably don’t like to hear this, but we have personalities and feelings. And I have some friends still there. So, yeah, I’ll definitely have some gratitude and some emotion. But at the end of the day, I have a job to do.”
Two weeks after the Bears claimed him off waivers from the Las Vegas Raiders, Leatherwood’s assimilation into the offense hit a snag. Eberflus said the 2021 first-round pick has an illness that necessitated his move to the NFI list.
To fill that hole on the 53-man roster, the Bears re-signed veteran guard Michael Schofield, whom they cut on Aug. 30.
In other injury news, rookie receiver Velus Jones returned to practice but remained limited with a lingering hamstring issue. Offensive tackle Riley Reiff (shoulder) also was limited.
In Green Bay, receiver Allen Lazard returned to practice after missing Week 1 with an ankle injury. Lazard was limited Wednesday, as were offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (knee) and Elgton Jenkins (knee). Guard Jon Runyan missed practice as he deals with a concussion.