LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields acknowledged feeling different at the start of his second NFL offseason given the uncertainty he isn't facing with his status as the team's starting quarterback.
"It feels good just having that mindset," Fields said. 'It's definitely a different mindset than last year, so I'm ready for the role and I'm ready to lead this offense and lead this team."
The Bears began a three-day voluntary minicamp on Tuesday where the majority of the offense was in attendance. The only player not present for the afternoon practice was quarterback Nick Foles, and general manager Ryan Poles said the team was "working on" trading him last month at the NFL owners meetings.
Fields' command of the offense impressed coach Matt Eberflus, who also noted that the quarterback's footwork has gotten cleaner, which will aid him in getting to the ball and getting it out faster.
"I thought he did an excellent job today," Eberflus said. "He really did. He was in command of the offense, really every play that I saw. There's certainly, when you're working with 11 guys, there was a mistake here and there by this person or that person, but man, he had really good command today."
Chicago is closing in on the anniversary of moving up nine spots in the first round of the 2021 draft to select Fields 11th overall. The former Ohio State quarterback was behind Foles and former Bears quarterback Andy Dalton on the depth chart throughout the offseason and training camp and did not start until Week 3 after Dalton got injured.
"Last year was my rookie year, of course, my first in the league, didn't know if I was going to start or not, didn't know if I was going to play, so my mindset right now is completely different than last year," Fields said. "I'm just excited to get started."
While sitting in on offensive meetings the past few weeks, Eberflus has noticed leadership qualities with Fields, particularly his confidence when it comes to command of a new playbook.
"He's got a really good confidence in the room," Eberflus said. "When I'm in the quarterback room, when I'm in the offensive room, [he's] calling out the plays, executing and then what the adjustments are if we may have that for that particular play."
Learning a new offense under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who spent the past three seasons in Green Bay, has been Fields' primary focus since the Bears started their offseason program on April 4. Aside from learning the fundamentals of the scheme and what will be required from him, Fields has begun to change specifics within his game.
The quarterback has worked with Getsy to alter his footwork upon dropping back in the shotgun, noting that last season he dropped back with his right foot forward and he is now dropping back with his left foot in front, something that is routine within the Packers' scheme.
"It's just what they do in their offense," Fields said. "It times it better with the routes and stuff like that, so that's why we do it."
Although he has solidified himself as the starter ahead of his second season, Fields still sees the challenges that come with having to fast-track learning a brand-new offense over the next five months. Chicago will hold OTAs next month after the draft and will hold a veteran minicamp June 14-16 before taking a hiatus prior to training camp.
"It would be easier if it was the same offense as last year and we were just able to grow on that," Fields said. "But kind of just reset, since the rookie year with learning this new offense and just kind of picking it up. I think that's going to be the most challenging part with this new coaching regime, is just learning this new offense and making sure we all get it down, to the details."