LAKE FOREST — Bears second-round draft pick Gervon Dexter Sr. got his first NFL reps on Day 1 of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on Friday.
The Florida product took most of its single-tech reps, but occasionally rotated to the three-tech point. Dexter initially showed a good line burst, but the start slowed as practice continued.
Before practice, Dexter explained that the Florida staff had him more in a two-gap role that required him to read the guard and react instead of just exploding upward.
The Bears’ decision to sign Dexter in the second round was seen as a reach by many draft analysts. But what the Bears saw was a 6-foot-6, 313-pound defensive tackle with rare movement abilities.
“When you look at him, automatically what you’ve seen here, the first thing you see is his size,” Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith said Saturday. “He’s a big guy. He takes up a lot of space. But what we also like about him is that he’s young and raw. He hasn’t played much football. I’m big, I’m care more about what you can do than what you can’t. So when I’m evaluating I like to look at the production. How do they get the production? What do they do? See what they can do , then go to the integer part, look at the OK, what are they limited in?
“For him, there were flashes of everything. Physical. Penetrating. Converting blocks. Being disruptive. Also, if you go back to his training and look at some of the things he can do athletically from his pro day, for a 6-6 man, he can move giftedly.It’s the things that you start doing, as a coach – as a D-line coach in particular – that you fall in love with.
Dexter has the unteachable traits. But the production, in terms of bags and pressures, wasn’t always there in Florida. Part of this can be placed on the responsibilities of the scheme entrusted to Dexter. But the lack of production can also be attributed to the slow start-up. It starts with Dexter’s stance, alignment and hands.
After the first day of minicamp, Smith and the Bears began to rebuild Dexter.
“For us, my thing is to keep it as simple as possible so I can see their speed,” Smith said. “I want to see what they can do. I don’t want to try to give them too much information about what they remember. I want to see what you can do. I think the first day you saw a bit of what he’s done for three, four years in high school and in Florida so far, we make him figure out, #1, how to line up? What’s the stance? Where’s the weight? Is it in the heels, or is it in the hands? And then, how do we get out of it?
“If you look at practice yesterday, he was kind of in that position that he was used to and that he played for three years in Florida. We made some little adjustments today. We’re starting to getting used to some of the – we’re talking about building a man from scratch. Some of the things that we started with our group was how to get into the position? Where is our weight distributed? What does our first step do? Where is our eyes? It’s not something that’s going to happen like that because he played in a different system for three years, but it’s something that he understood and felt, that’s- to say that if you can understand it, feel it and know the difference, then we are already taking steps to improve.”
There’s reason to believe that Gervon Dexter’s best football is ahead of him. He has all the physical tools to be a hard-hitting defensive tackle for years at the NFL level.
But it’s also clear that patience might be needed. While some teams are using the top 60 picks on guys who will provide meaningful shots on Day 1, Dexter might not flash for some time down the road.
Here are some more notes from the last day of rookie minicamp:
– While patience may be needed with Dexter, first-round pick Darnell Wright appears to have entered the NFL earlier than expected compared to the normal rookie offensive lineman.
“He knows what he’s doing,” offensive line coach Chris Morgan said Saturday. “The game is a bit slow for him. That’s one of the things we really liked about him. Some guys, when the ball is broken, they just play. Things seem slow for him. He puts his hands where he wants to put them. He is very controlled in his sets. He has a good tempo. He does great things. »
The Bears want Wright to spend the next six weeks diving into the playbook and acclimating to the verbiage of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s offense. Wright comes from a no-huddle offense in Tennessee, so being able to digest, understand and hold off multiple play calls in the huddle is his first job. He needs to learn how the Bears adjust blocks and how they handle play-pass, naked and dropback play.
That’s a lot to put on a rookie’s plate, but once Wright lives on the playbook and in the classroom, the Bears are confident he’ll be ready to roll for Week 1.
“I just think it’s unique for someone that big to be able to bend and be as athletic and as explosive as he is,” Getsy said of Wright. “I think it’s just hard to find guys that big, that long, with incredible length. And the power is incredible. And having that athleticism to go with it, that was really cool.”
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– Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson shone on day one of minicamp, using his physique to get the most out of speedy receiver Tyler Scott.
Stevenson has impressed the Bears coaching staff so far. The plan is for Stevenson to spend all of his time working in the outside corner and not spend time splitting duties like Kyler Gordon did last season.
“He did a good job learning defensively, it was quick for him,” cornerbacks coach Jon Hoke said. “He did a good job trying to understand the concepts we teach. We kind of knew his skills and he proved he had that, really excited about it. His length is great, he showed it today when he was able to do some things. Really, really excited about him. really excited that in two days he kind of understood some of the concepts that we’re trying to teach and understand, and then just the new techniques that we’re trying to do.
– On Saturday, Morgan confirmed that Teven Jenkins is now working at left guard following the acquisition as a free agent of right guard Nate Davis.
“Teven has experience on the left, from college, from being here,” Morgan said. “So for a guy who’s been on both sides before, and a guy like Teven who’s smart, talented, he’s excited about it. And it hasn’t been such a big adjustment for him now. He’s still working He’s…perfect our craft there. But he’s excited about it.”
– Wide receiver Darnell Mooney is still recovering from his season-ending ankle surgery in November. He has not yet been cleared to return to training, but remains on track.
“He’s great with his rehab. He’s great,” receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. “He’s racing at the moment. He’s fine. I told him that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so keep working, listen to the coaches and the doctors because they are the experts in this field. When you arrive in the field I’m the expert to tell you how to run the routes but I can’t tell you how to work your injury and rehabilitation So listen to these people When you’re ready to go they’ll kick you out here and we will prepare to leave.
— Fourth-round rookie running back Roschon Johnson has hit the ground running on offense, special teams and boardrooms. His arrival means the Bears potentially have three viable running backs. Getsy thinks the competition will take care of itself.
“I would say the vision is not set yet,” Getsy said of the running back rotation. “But I think it’s a really cool and unique opportunity for a lot of guys who have a lot of experience. I think the competition in this room is going to be real. So we’re going to see the best come out of each of these guys. “
– Sophomore left tackle Braxton Jones has vowed to spend his first NFL offseason strengthening against the bull rush. With the Bears signing Wright to likely play on the right side, Jones will enjoy another season where he held all 17 games last season.
“I think anytime you can stay somewhere and perfect your craft and rack up more reps, yeah, that obviously helps,” Morgan said of Jones staying at left tackle. “It helps a lot. Is it easy to go from right to left? No it’s not easy. Can it be done? Yes, some people can do it. Braxton did a good job last year, and the way things have worked out, he’s the left tackle going to camp to compete. It benefits him a lot to stay there and continue to work on the left side. The position, the setting, the calls, his eyes . All.”
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