It was a bit happenstance, but Bears quarterback Justin Fields became a part of the Colin Kaepernick comeback tour last month.
The Bears quarterback was working out in Atlanta with elite quarterback trainer Quincy Avery (and Bears teammates Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet) when Kaepernick arrived for a workout as part of an offseason program he hopes will entice an NFL team to give him a chance to return to the league after being blackballed for the last five seasons.
“That was actually my first time meeting him,” Fields said. “But I worked with Quincy Avery in Atlanta, so I’m guessing he just came down there for a workout. It was cool meeting him. Of course, he’s an icon. It was awesome just to meet him and work with him.”
Kaepernick, 34, worked out for NFL scouts at halftime of Michigan’s spring game on April 2, but has yet to get a tryout invitation. He has not played in the NFL since 2016, when he had a 90.7 passer rating (16 touchdowns, four interceptions) for the 49ers.
“He looked pretty good,” Fields said.
Safety Eddie Jackson, cornerback Jaylon Johnson and defensive ends Robert Quinn and Mario Edwards, Jr. were among 11 players on the 61-player roster who were not in attendance at Tuesday’s opening mini-camp practice. Quarterback Nick Foles also wasn’t there, but it’s unlikely he’ll be with the team this season, so his absence is not a surprise.
Mini-camps — and the offseason program in general –are officially voluntary, but historically attendance has been expected. That has loosened up in recent years, so it was no surprise that coach Matt Eberflus had no issue with key players being out when in the past even a team’s best players would want to make a good first impression after a coaching change.
“No concern,” Eberflus said. “Guys have things that go on personally. They’re working on a part of their body. Maybe they had an injury from last season and they’re working on that. Everybody’s got their own story and that’s not a big issue. Everybody’s done a good job of communicating with us and they’ll be here when they’re here.”
It was only drills on Day 1 of the first mini-camp, but for what it’s worth, Larry Borom lined up at left tackle and Teven Jenkins at right tackle Tuesday –a reversal from their rookie season.
Veteran Cody Whitehair was at left guard and free agent Lucas Patrick at center — but the other positions could be in flux up until the season opener, Eberflus said. Sam Mustipher, who started at center last season, was at right guard with the first team Tuesday.
“We’re looking at a lot of things right now, so you might see guys in different spots,” Eberflus said. We’re just trying to figure out what guys do and what they do best. So you could see guys flip sides during OTAs (offseason practices). This is a work in progress.”
Former Seahawks wide receiver David Moore is among five players participating on a tryout basis. Brown has 78 receptions for 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns in five NFL seasons — more touchdown catches than any receiver on the Bears’ roster.
The other tryout players are kick returner JoJo Natson, cornerbacks Ryan Lewis and Greg Stroman and former Illinois State safety/kick returner Christian Uphoff.