It has been 147 days since quarterback Nick Foles was traded to the Bears, but Wednesday was the first day he was finally permitted to throw routes to his new teammates in practice.
“Think about that. We’ve had a lot of Zoom meetings, we’ve had a lot of discussions,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “We can talk about it, it sounds good through this computer, but today was the very first time that our team - and I’m speaking offensively - was able to throw routes from these quarterbacks to the wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.”
After the entire offseason program was conducted virtually, the NFL has instituted a slow, calculated ramp up period in training camp, which is now in its second full week. The quarterbacks were able to join the rookies at Halas Hall during the last week of July, but Wednesday marked the first official full practice, albeit in helmets and shorts. It at least allowed receivers to actual routes and start building on-field chemistry with Foles.
“Today was Day 1 of that. I thought the guys running routes, the timing of the quarterbacks, looked pretty good,” Nagy said. “They’re understanding their steps, the details of what they do, where do they line up pre-snap, defensively, what can they do?”
The answer to that last part is still… not much. Next Monday, Aug. 17, will mark the official start of full-speed, padded practices. At that point, the quarterbacks will actually get to face the Bears’ talented defense and read coverages.
“These guys are going to be really excited to actually go against somebody else on the other side and compete for the first time in a long time,” Nagy said.
That part will be especially important for the incumbent in the Bears’ quarterback competition, as Mitchell Trubisky was challenged by Nagy this offseason to become “a master of coverages.” But the fourth-year pro has the current advantage over Foles when it comes to familiarity with the team's offensive personnel. Wednesday also marked Trubisky’s first opportunity to throw to his full group of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs since last season, but he at least is familiar with most of the personnel and was able to organize private workouts this summer in the Chicago suburbs. That’s why Wednesday’s practice carried a little more weight for Foles, who only has 32 days left to build chemistry before the Week 1 opener in Detroit on Sept. 13.
“Specifically with Nick today, I thought his feet were good,” Nagy said. “I thought his timing was good. But again, we’re evaluating and watching these guys at the same time, and I thought that Mitch too - we’ve talked about how he’s growing as well as a quarterback, so both of those guys … I told you all that it’s going to be a healthy competition and so far they’re proving me right.”
At this point, we can only take Nagy at is word, as practices aren’t open to reporters until Monday when the pads go on. That’s when the competition truly begins.