12 takeaways from Bears’ first day of mandatory minicamp:

The Chicago Bears returned to Halas Hall for their first practice of mandatory minicamp, and it was certainly an eventful day.

There was plenty to unpack following Tuesday’s practice, including the notable absence of star pass rusher Robert Quinn, who was the only player not in attendance. Also making headlines included Dakota Dozier being carted off the field with an apparent leg injury, Velus Jones Jr. continuing to impress and more experimentation with the offensive line.

Chicago has two more practices on Wednesday and Thursday before breaking for the summer.

Here’s what we learned from the first day of Bears minicamp:

Robert Quinn’s absence is unexcused:

AP Photo / Duane Burleson:

Robert Quinn was not present as the Bears kicked off mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. It came shortly after Ian Rapoport reported that Quinn was not expected to show as he continues to train on his own.

Head coach Matt Eberflus refused to address Quinn’s absence, but he did confirm that it was unexcused. He wants Quinn present, but he’s leaving it to GM Ryan Poles to deal with.

Safety Eddie Jackson was not worried about Quinn’s absence.

“Not really. It’s Rob, ”Jackson said. “He’s been in the league for a while and I’m pretty sure he has his reasons. We’re just waiting on him to come back. We know he’s going to come back in tip top. “

Teven Jenkins still with second-team offense:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

Right tackle Teven Jenkins made headlines last week after he was working with the second-team offense during the final week of organized team activities. Eberflus said not to read into it – that they’re experimenting with different combinations.

But Jenkins was once again working with the second-team offense as rookie Braxton Jones and Larry Borom were the starting left and right tackles, respectively, as minicamp began.

Eberflus said Jones and Borom will remain in their respective positions through the duration of minicamp. Then, the coaching staff will decide whether they want to go back to Jenkins with the starters.

Bears are thin at offensive guard after Dakota Dozier’s injury:

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The Bears suffered what appears to be their first significant injury of the offseason after Dakota Dozier suffered an apparent leg injury during Tuesday’s practice. Dozier was carted off the field.

Dozier, who signed a one-year deal earlier this offseason, was competing with Sam Mustipher at right guard. During the time of his injury, Dozier was working at left guard with the second-team offense.

Dozier’s injury sheds a brighter light on the weakness at offensive guard, which was already a concern. The Bears should consider going out in free agency and bringing in a veteran. JC Tretter is a big name still on the market, and Chicago could easily move Lucas Patrick to right guard while Tretter occupies center.

“All combinations are open” on offensive line:

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports:

The Bears are doing their best to find the right offensive line combination as protecting quarterback Justin Fields remains a huge concern. That’s required plenty of experimentation with the offensive line alignment, and it doesn’t sound like they’re done.

While Eberflus noted that they’d like to get the offensive line sorted out “the sooner the better,” he did not rule out the possibility of Jenkins or Borom perhaps kicking over to right guard.

Eberflus said “all combinations are open” on the offensive line in response to a question about the possibility of Jenkins or Borom at right guard.

And it’s a good thing too after Dozier’s injury leaves the Bears thinner at the guard position.

Velus Jones Jr. has potential to be legit playmaker as a rookie:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

There have been several Bears rookies who are already impressing during the offseason program, including third-round rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. Based on what his teammates have said so far, Jones has the potential to be a lethal playmaker for the Bears offense.

“When he gets the ball, y’all will see. He can fly, ”said wide receiver Darnell Mooney. “He’s gonna be a playmaker for sure.”

Jones’ 4.31 speed speaks for itself, as does his ability to make things happen after the catch.

Kyler Gordon did not practice, but Eberflus isn’t worried:

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports:

One notable name who did not participate in Tuesday’s practice is second-round rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon. Gordon also did not participate in the final practice of OTAs.

Eberflus did not give any specifics about Gordon, but he did not seem concerned about Gordon’s status. He noted that Gordon did some work on the side.

“He’s doing awesome,” Eberflus said.

Jaylon Johnson had a pick-6 of Justin Fields:

AP Photo / Kamil Krzaczynski:

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson is back where he belongs working with the starting defense, and he had logged a takeaway that had eluded him last week.

Johnson intercepted quarterback Justin Fields and returned it for a touchdown during Tuesday’s practice.

Johnson has impressed during his first two seasons. But the one thing that’s eluded him are interceptions. He has just one interception in two seasons, and it’s something he’s looking to improve upon.

Eberflus points to lack of play-action for Justin Fields’ struggles in practice:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

Justin Fields has had some rough practices during the Bears’ offseason program, which is to be expected. He’s learning a new offensive scheme and working with a ton of new receivers.

But Eberflus went as far as to pinpoint the lack of play-action passes as a reason for Fields struggles. Given the team won’t don pads until training camp, they’re not running the football. Hence, the defense knows it’s a pass every time, giving them an advantage.

Eberflus expects Fields’ luck to change come training camp.

Fields says the offense isn’t ready to play a game right now:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

The Bears are learning a new offense under Luke Getsy, one that promises to be an upgrade from Matt Nagy’s. But it takes time – and reps – for the players to get accustomed to it.

Fields was honest about his assessment of the Bears offense right now, and he does not think they’re ready to play a game right now.

“I’m the type of guy that would like to know I’m prepared. So, right now, I’m just being honest, we’re not ready to play a game right now, ”Fields said. “And when that time comes, we will be ready. Right now, no, not ready to play a game. ”

Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney are pushing each other to succeed:

Justin K. Aller / Getty Images:

Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney have been training together non-stop this offseason, dating back to the day after the 2021 season came to a close. They’ve cultivated a relationship both on and off the field, where the Bears are hoping this duo will be a dynamic one for years to come.

“He wants to take over the league. He’s already Justin Fields but he wants to be the best quarterback in the league, ”Mooney said. “… I have unbelievable faith that he will. His success is my success. ”

It even led to some friendly competition in the weight room to see who would stay the longest.

“We came in on a Friday, and we’re just lifting and lifting, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, you can leave now. We’re done working out, ‘”Mooney said. “I’m like, ‘I’m not leaving, you’re leaving.'”

It’s that kind of thing that serves to motivate them both.

“That type of work ethic and that mindset, it’s definitely going to pay off,” Mooney said.

Rookie DE Carson Taylor is a name to watch:

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports:

Undrafted rookie free agent Carson Taylor signed with the Bears following rookie minicamp, and he’s been making the most of his opportunity. According to Adam Hoge, Taylor has been turning heads this offseason, including during Tuesday’s practice.

Taylor had “a really nice day,” where he had “an impressive rush against Teven Jenkins.”

Taylor is certainly a name to keep an eye on heading into training camp.

Rod Marinelli was present at Tuesday’s practice:

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports:

Eberflus has been inviting Bears alumni to observe practice this season. Tuesday’s practice featured a familiar face – former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who worked with Eberflus for five years in Dallas.

Eberflus spoke about Marinelli, explaining his biggest takeaway has been Marinelli focusing on developing a relationship with his players.

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