Bears News: TJ Edwards and DJ Moore on defense and rookies heading into next season

Bears News: TJ Edwards and DJ Moore on defense and rookies heading into next season

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - There are so many things for Chicago Bears fans to look forward to next season. On offense, rookie quarterback Caleb Williams will have someone other than receiver DJ Moore to throw to after Chicago acquired receivers Keenan Allen via trade and Rome Odunze through the draft.

Their defense was one of the best in the league in the second half of the season, in part from the dominant presence of TJ Edwards at linebacker with 155 tackles which was No. 7 in the league.

Even with the season Edwards had last season, he has some areas he wishes to improve on, particularly turnovers.

“I want to get some more turnovers. Like I said, I dropped a couple last year too. So, I need a couple more,” Edwards said. “But, anytime I can get around the ball, hopefully, those (tackle and pass breakup) numbers kind of stay where they’re at.”

One factor that helped Edwards, besides being present in all 17 games last season, was playing alongside fellow linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who played in 15 games last season. Both were new to the team in the 2023 season and made an instant impact. They were first and second on the team in total tackles, and Edmunds had a career-high in interceptions with four.

For Edwards, it was an instant connection meeting Edmunds, and their competitive natures fueled each other.

“Right when I met him, he was just a good dude, just a solid guy … He’s an awesome guy. I think we see the game the same, so we’re able to kind of play off one another and grew that as time went,” Edwards said. “Like I said, we always have competition every day, like who’s going to get the first turnover and who’s going to make the big play in the game. So, it’s fun. It keeps things going, and it’s definitely been great playing with him so far.”

Head coach Matt Eberflus has a knack for giving players nicknames. Edwards's nickname is “Hitman” because of his omnipresent presence on the field. That omnipresent talent extends to practice, too, as he is competitive against wide receiver DJ Moore, nicknamed Lamborghini.

The fun and competitive battles between “Hitman” and “Lamborghini” are another element that serves to fuel them going into next season, even with how underappreciated Moore is throughout the league.

“He just makes plays. I think we all know how special he is,” Edwards said. “I think it’s just a matter of time before everyone else realizes that too.”

Last season, Moore was the unquestioned No. 1 receiver. Going into this season, the Bears now have a crowded receiver room with the additions of Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze. Odunze was selected as the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, putting up 1,640 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns last season.

Allen is a six-time Pro Bowler who had 1,243 receiving yards in 13 games last season.

“(Rome’s) got that smoothness to him. When we worked out, I (saw) it a little bit. So, (I) can’t wait for him to get here and show us more,” Moore said. “I feel like it’s going to be a race to 1,000 between the receivers in the room, so it should be amazing.”

Chicago also has a new quarterback, rookie Caleb Williams, who they selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Williams won the Heisman in the 2022 season and was also the PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year. In 2023, his numbers were down, although he still had only five interceptions and 30 touchdown passes. Moore has already worked with Williams and is excited to practice with him this spring.

“His anticipation. I think I said that recently. Working out, he had the ball right there on the money before he even turned around,” Moore said. “He’s a likable guy, and I think everybody’s going to gravitate to him when he gets here.”

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