LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Utilizing the snap count is a work in progress for Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams.

Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp session at Halas Hall featured an up-and-down day from the rookie QB as he excelled throughout the 7-on-7 period and struggled in full team drills, particularly in the two-minute and blitz period where Chicago’s experienced defense got the best of the offense.

One area coach Matt Eberflus wants to see Williams improve during the team’s next two practices with the full squad is his cadence at the line of scrimmage.

“We saw guys jump off sides — I think there were a half-dozen [instances] — so that’s something that needs to be worked out,” Eberflus said. “That is something that needs to be addressed and worked on and improved on here in the next couple of days. We’d like to get that cleaned up.”

Williams’ transition from playing primarily in the shotgun at Oklahoma and USC to taking snaps from under center mirrors many of the same challenges rookie quarterbacks go through in their transition from college football to the NFL.

“It’s so interesting because in that position like taking a snap under center and saying a cadence is something you would think would be so normal, but most guys aren’t doing that until they get to the league now,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “So getting guys in the huddle, saying the play call, doing the cadence, those are all brand-new things for him.

“I thought today was his best day with it, actually. In the huddle, he was crisp and clear and all those things. I think that just comes with confidence in the playbook that he’s gaining and … kind of finding his own voice with the cadence because that’s definitely something that if you can get going, you can weaponize.”

Eberflus put the onus on the entire offense, not just Williams, to get on the same page with the quarterback’s cadence to avoid pre-snap penalties.

“You just have to get the reps and get it right,” Eberflus said. “You have to use cadence as a weapon on offense. You can’t just go, ‘Ready, set, hut’ the entire time, right? So, we got to do double counts, we got to do triple counts, we got to do dummy counts, we got to do silent counts — we got to do all the counts that everybody else has in the NFL.

“We have to use that as a weapon to hold those defensive linemen at bay a little bit and to get them offsides a little bit. I mean, [backup quarterback [Tyson] Bagent had a couple free plays today where they jumped offsides. Shoot, we won a game last year [versus Detroit] doing it. It’s important that we continue to work on that, because it needs to be a weapon for us.”

Williams practiced behind an offensive line that was missing its starting right guard, Nate Davis, who was present but not practicing in team drills. Davis was replaced by veteran offensive lineman Matt Pryor.

The quarterback had several noteworthy moments Tuesday, including multiple tight window throws to wide receiver DJ Moore and underneath throws to Rome Odunze, Keenan Allen and D’Andre Swift.

Williams completed 13 of 16 throws in 7-on-7, which also provided a learning moment after launching a pass that was picked off by safety Kevin Byard.

“Those are the experiences that he has to go through,” Eberflus said. “He has to go through his progressions, which he did. He was right on his progressions. Then he took a hitch, and the ball should have came out, and he took two hitches, and it was late over the middle. That’s always dangerous when you do that.

“But that’s the learning experience in the process that a young quarterback has to go through … Whenever his feet are timed up, when can he make those throws and when can’t he make those throws? That’s just experimentation.”


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