CHICAGO (CBS) — Fall is in the air – and not just because of the mild temperatures in the weather forecast this week.
Bears Training Camp begins in earnest this week, with rookies already having reported to Halas Hall. Veterans report Tuesday, and the first full-squad practice is Wednesday.
One Bear you should not expect to see when camp opens is linebacker Roquan Smith. The NFL Network reported Smith is holding out for a contract extension ahead of the fifth and final year of his rookie deal.
Meanwhile, it is a homecoming for Orland Park native and offensive lineman Michael Schofield, whom the Bears have signed. The seven-year vet started seven games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season, and lives with his Olympic hockey star wife Kendall Coyne-Schofield in the south suburbs.
CBS 2’s Marshall Harris caught up with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current NFL on CBS Lead Analyst Tony Romo to get his thoughts on Head Coach Matt Eberflus and the Bears.
Romo: “I think just anytime you have change, you can go one of two directions – but I think they’re going to have direction now. Coach Eberflus is a fantastic coach, and I’ve been around him, and he’s had a lot of great people that he’s learned under – but he’s always trying to learn and improve.
“And I think you’re going to find that he’s going to have them playing the right way. They’re going to play fast and hard, and they’re going to fly around, and I think you’ll see them – a team you’re proud of when they’re out on the field. They have challenges ahead with the teams they play, but this is going to be one of the more improved teams in the National Football League, I believe.”
Harris: “As the quarterback goes, so goes the team. What did you see from Justin Fields in year one, and what are you looking for the biggest maybe leap improvement here?”
Romo: “Well, I think you’re always looking for that leap in that quarterbacks in that one to two – especially by year three. If they haven’t shown up by year three, it’s usually like, it gets harder – they need to have the perfect situation to be able to do it. But I think Justin Fields showed flashes of some rare ability at times. He made some splash throws, I call them, where, woo! That was hard. That was more difficult than most of the players in the league.
“Then you also see the young version of quarterbacks – that comes up a lot – where they don’t get to the right spot or get out of a certain play, sail a ball over someone’s head, take a sack on a certain down – all these little things come into play. The more you can actually help your teammates on your offensive line by getting rid of the ball – the easier it is for things to develop and matriculate down the field – and then all of a sudden, the big plays happen.”
Romo is pretty high on a Bears team that is lacking in proven targets for Fields to throw to. But it remains to be seen, of course, how it will all play out – especially under a first-year head coach.