While Chicago Bears pass rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad is still relatively unfamiliar to Bears fans, he’s quickly making himself known during training camp at Halas Hall. Though the team has yet to put pads on this preseason, Muhammad was hard to miss in Monday’s practice.
The team had an off day Sunday, so Head Coach Matt Eberflus didn’t want to rush them into pads, opting instead to give them a ramp-up day. And though most training camp practices where you are practicing against your own teammates skew heavily in the offense’s favor, I don’t think it was a question that the defense won the day on Monday.
Muhammad, though not allowed to touch the quarterback, was a big reason for that.
All day he harassed quarterback Justin Fields in the pocket or came crashing down in run support on Bears’ backs attempting to get to the outside. He added the cherry on top during the team’s two-minute drill.
When asked how many ‘sacks’ he had in that period alone, Muhammad broke into a smile as he said, “a couple.”
He’s a do-it-all guy with experience in Eberflus’ defense from their days in Indianapolis together. He will undoubtedly be an impact player for this new 4-3 system in Chicago. It’s why he’s being looked upon as a leader for a defense that still has guys like Robert Quinn, Eddie Jackson, and Roquan Smith, though the latter is currently on the PUP list.
Eberflus was very complimentary of the player he took with him from the Colts following Monday’s practice. He spoke of the physicality and versatility Muhammad has, and how he goes hard every down.
“It’s hard to defend that on every single play,” Eberflus said of Muhammad.
Muhammad started all 17 games for Indianapolis last year, recording 6.0 sacks, 7.0 tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hits. He’s been in the league since 2017, when he was initially drafted by the New Orleans Saints. It took until last season for Muhammad to be objectively productive, but he’s been in Eberflus’ system for the past four seasons. Not only is he a league veteran, but he’s a veteran of this system and it’s showing here in the early days of camp.
“I’m just trying to hit the quarterback as many times as possible,” Muhammad said of his goals this season. “That’s about it.”
Confirmed football guy.
More from Bears camp:
- Muhammad was relegated mostly to the outside of the Bears’ base 4-3 front, utilized as part of a rotation all along the defensive line. One player that saw a variety of alignments was Trevis Gipson. He lined up both inside and outside, showcasing his own versatility within this very multiple system.
- Defensive backs had no issues being aggressive. There were multiple pass breakups in both one-on-one drills and team periods. Those batted-down passes finally yielded an interception late in practice when cornerback Jaylon Johnson got a piece of the ball ahead of wide receiver Darnell Mooney. The ball was then tipped into the hands of linebacker Joe Thomas, who completed the catch for an interception.
- A few plays later, Fields found vindication as he hit Mooney on another pass through traffic.
- The catch of the day belonged to Khari Blasingame, who had escaped down the left sideline (because who expects a fullback to get vertical?). Fields saw his chance and launched a beautiful pass just ahead of Blasingame who was able to dive for the ball and make the grab. Their teammates were predictably excited.
- Fields, though yes, allowed by the defense, looked to have no trouble getting through his different reads. He had command of the pocket and was patient before taking off running if necessary.
- Wide receiver Byron Pringle was brought to the podium to meet with the media after practice. While he said he doesn’t like comparing people, he said both Patrick Mahomes (whom he was with in Kansas City) and Fields are both great leaders. He opened up about Fields getting on him for lining up incorrectly on a play earlier this offseason. Pringle qualified that he appreciates that out of Fields and that he ‘just wants to win’. That speaks tremendously to the young quarterback’s sense of accountability and should be encouraging for Bears fans to hear.
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