BOURBONNAIS — Now that the pads are on at Chicago Bears training camp, the real fun is just beginning.
7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills took center stage at Olivet Nazarene University Monday with all three quarterbacks — Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray — beginning to build trust among receivers, tight ends and running backs.
“We’re beginning to challenge guys on both sides of the ball with the 1-on-1 drills and it’s just more great competition,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “We’re starting to do more situational stuff such as the two-minute drill that we did. I’ll never get upset, angry or criticize because of a mistake. That’s what practice is for and we’re getting better.”
Super Bowl experience
In his five-year career, Taylor Gabriel has been on the winning and losing sides of the league.
Undrafted out of Abilene Christian University in 2014, he signed with the Browns and won a grand total of 10 games during his two-year stint in Cleveland.
He was claimed off waivers by Atlanta in September of 2016 and began creating his niche as a quick slot receiver. The 5-foot-8 dynamo totaled 35 catches for 579 yards with six touchdowns during that season and racked up 24 wins, including three victories in the playoffs, before signing with the Bears.
“Experience is one thing that you can’t teach,” Gabriel said. “I’ve been in the NFL for a long time and I’ve made a lot of plays. Bringing that playoff experience and having played on the biggest stage is just one of the many things that I can bring to this team, and I’m excited.”
It’s not just a new team and new surroundings that has Gabriel eager to be in the Windy City. It’s the different ways he’s being used in the new offensive scheme that has him feeling like a kid on Christmas morning again.
“I can’t pinpoint what my role on the team really is because the coaches have me everywhere and it’s great,” Gabriel said. “I’m a running back at times, doing flea-flickers, going downfield and through the middle at times. You can never have too much speed and that’s what I do.
“We saw what Nagy did with Tyreek Hill in Kansas City and he’s bringing that offense here so it’s exciting to be a part of.”
Gabriel continued to impress as he was continuously targeted by Trubisky, whether it was double coverage up the sideline, through the middle or a quick swing pass.
Building the trust with Trubisky is Gabriel’s top priority and it seems to be coming at a rapid pace.
“Once you gain his trust it becomes fun among receivers to see who is getting that first pass or first touchdown,” Gabriel said. “We’re all gaining more confidence by the day and building trust with him as we’re becoming more comfortable with the offense.”
On the rise
Adrian Amos turned in his best season during his three-year career last year and entering his fourth season, he wants to take the next step.
He was tied for fourth on the team with Kyle Fuller in total tackles with 69, including the most solo tackles with 62.
The Penn State product was second on the team with six tackles for a loss alongside a 90-yard interception returned for a touchdown in 2017.
He was graded as the No. 2 safety by Pro Football Focus with a 92 rating, and although it’s a nice honor, it’s not one Amos is focusing on.
“It’s good to be put in that category with other great players,” Amos said. “But at the same point, it’s all about the next game or practice. I’m self-motivated and there’s a lot of things that I’m still improving on. I’m just working everyday to get better.”
Although he didn’t specify what he wanted to improve, there’s no doubt he wants to form the best safety duo in the league alongside Eddie Jackson.
“He has a lot of room to grow, but that all comes with experience,” Amos said. “The more you play, the better you begin to understand certain tendencies that other players have that you can capitalize on. He’s gaining more confidence by the practice and it shows.”