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Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Getting to know each other

Halas Intrigue Bears Report
The Bears players and new coaching staff got their first real looks at each other this week during the team’s voluntary minicamp. Read the latest coverage and analysis below.

1. Face of the team
No one at Halas Hall will have as much effect on coach Matt Eberflus’ record than quarterback Justin Fields. But linebacker Roquan Smith is next on the list.
As Eberflus lays the groundwork for the Bears’ defense, Smith isn’t just some guy. He’s the guy. Eberflus needs him as a partner, not just another player.
Fortunately for Eberflus, Smith is eager to form that relationship. The Bears are launching something new, and Smith is passionate about spearheading it.
“That’s a heck of an opportunity to have,” he said. “Resetting things and starting over fresh — new faces, new regime — it’s a great opportunity to be the face of the new regime and do whatever it takes to make this the best regime in Bears history. That’s my plan.”
LB Roquan Smith ‘absolutely’ envisions staying with Bears
2. Earning some respect
Darnell Mooney knows nobody thinks he can handle this.
He’s heard it all offseason and got another reminder after practice Thursday when a reporter asked him about being the Bears’ “apparent” No. 1 wide receiver. He didn’t wince at the phrasing. It’s more of the same.
Mooney was lightly regarded as a two-star prospect in high school and ended up at Tulane, which led him to waiting until the fifth round to get drafted in 2020. His own team took two other players in that round before claiming him at No. 173 overall, 25th at his position.
He has only skyrocketed since then, culminating in a 1,055-yard performance last season, but he’s well aware that everyone remains unconvinced. He even seems somewhat comfortable being doubted, for now.
“I know what I want out of my life and I know what I want out of this league,” he said of his mindset heading into his third season. “I will get my respect and I’m going to keep going until I get my respect.
“Even when I do get my respect, I’m still going to keep going.”
WR Darnell Mooney knows you don’t believe in him, but ‘I will get my respect’
3. Running Back U.
Running back David Montgomery went back to school in the offseason — mentally, not physically.
He is constantly, almost obsessively, looking for ways to improve. And with a new coaching staff and offensive scheme for 2022, he turned to a tack that figures to help him no matter what the scheme is.
He not only continued to work on his speed in the offseason, but also took his own crash course in understanding defenses. Entering his fourth year, Montgomery, out of Iowa State, prides himself on being an intelligent player — and a better understanding of what NFL defenses are doing figures to help take his game to another level.
“Just learning different coverages, rotations, pressure and also understanding different things that the defensive line does,” Montgomery said.
“I look at it as college. First year was like 100-level classes, my second year 200-level classes. You always try to find ways to improve. But as I get older, the game slows down. I want to be able to be sharper and more crisp at recognizing things at this point in my career.”
Beas RB David Montgomery ready to hit the ground running
4. Working toward a new look
Bears safety Eddie Jackson knows how last season looked. He saw it as clearly as everyone else.
‘‘Yeah, it wasn’t the best at all,’’ Jackson said after the final practice of voluntary minicamp Thursday at Halas Hall. ‘‘I think that’s probably one of my worst seasons. I gave up too many deep balls. Just trying to eliminate that. The little things with your eyes, breaking on the ball, attention to details. Little things, little fixes that you could make.’’
You could make a similar case for Jackson’s 2020 season, too. An opportunistic player who once embodied the Bears’ NFL-best defense turned into someone who struggled to make tackles and explosive plays.
Consider this: In the three seasons before Jackson signed a four-year, $58.4 million extension to stay with the Bears in January 2020, he had 15 takeaways — 10 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. In the two seasons since the extension, he has no interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Bears safety Eddie Jackson’ knows 2021 was ‘one of my worst seasons’ — so now what?
5. In other news
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