Soldier Field will be at full capacity for 2021 season
For the first time since the 2019 season, Bears fans will be allowed at Soldier Field. And they will be allowed in at full capacity.
The team announced the news in a letter to fans from team president and CEO Ted Phillips on Wednesday.
According to the letter, many health and safety measures implemented in 2020 will remain in place. Fully vaccinated fans will not have to wear masks, but masks will be encouraged for fans who aren't vaccinated.
Additionally, a "very limited number" of fans will be allowed to attend training camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Training camp begins in late July. The Bears moved camp back to Halas Hall in 2020 after almost two decades in Bourbonnais. Further information on training camp tickets will be shared later this month.
"It's awesome news for us if that's the case, for our fans and our city," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "I think back to, in particular for me, in 2018 when we were in that playoff game against the Eagles. It just gives you chills to think what that atmosphere was like, and how crazy it gets and the passion that they have."
Soldier Field will be rocking again this fall.
The Bears host two preseason games, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21, at Soldier Field. The regular-season home opener will be at noon Sept. 19 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bears second-round draft pick Teven Jenkins has signed his four-year rookie contract. Jenkins was the last of the Bears' seven draft picks to sign his deal. The Bears now have the entire draft class, including quarterback Justin Fields, under contract.
Jenkins has been working at left tackle with the first-team offense during veteran minicamp this week. He appears to be the front-runner for the starting left tackle job.
Nagy said it's hard to get a true evaluation of where Jenkins is at during minicamp because the players aren't in full pads yet.
"Teven is doing a really good job of trying to get down the fundamentals of what (offensive line coach Juan Castillo) teaches and put it together," Nagy said. "When we get to training camp and the pads come on and we start doing 1-on-1s, you can really truly see where these guys are at."
Vildor stepping up
During practice Wednesday, second-year cornerback Kindle Vildor twice intercepted Bears quarterback Andy Dalton. One interception came in 7-on-7s, and the other was in an 11-on-11 situation.
The second-year pro out of Georgia Southern could see significantly more playing time in 2021 with the departure of veteran Kyle Fuller. Vildor played sparingly on defense early in the 2020 season. When Jaylon Johnson suffered a shoulder injury in December, Vildor saw his time increase significantly. He earned his first start in Week 16 against Jacksonville.
Now, the Bears have to figure out who to play at cornerback opposite Johnson. Vildor certainly is in the running.
"He's definitely flashing," Nagy said. "Every play you get, every rep you get, you get a little bit more experience, a little more confidence and you can play faster. The stuff that goes on on the offensive side of the ball slows down for you."
A good day for Fields
Nagy felt quarterback Justin Fields had a "good day" Wednesday. Nagy liked some of the throws he saw from Fields toward the sideline. Another play stood out where Fields extended the play with his feet.
"We want to keep stacking those good days up both mentally, physically," Nagy said.
At this point, the quarterback depth chart isn't going to change. Nagy said Andy Dalton is the starter, and he expects him to remain the starter through training camp. That being said, Nagy feels that Fields is in a similar place to where Patrick Mahomes was during his rookie minicamp in 2017.
"Right now for Justin, the biggest thing is to make sure that he's continuing to just really listen and just get better," Nagy said. "And then probably just keep asking the right questions, and I think he's doing that more and more as he feels comfortable."