5 things we heard from Chicago Bears assistant coaches, including Caleb Williams’ drive to learn and Rome Odunze’s new mentors

After the Chicago Bears wrapped up their second practice of rookie minicamp Saturday at Halas Hall, assistant coaches met with reporters to talk about their position groups.

The interview sessions included several new coaches under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron: passing game coordinator Thomas Brown, quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, wide receivers coach Chris Beatty and running backs coach Chad Morton.

Here are five things we heard from the coaches.

1. Caleb Williams already has demonstrated his hunger to learn.

Joseph received the texts at 10:30 or 11 p.m. Friday. Williams was studying the offense, and the rookie quarterback had questions: “Hey, why are we doing this here? Why are we blocking it like that? Isn’t that his guy to block?”

Joseph saw those texts as an example of Williams’ drive to learn all of the information he needs to lead the team. Williams said Friday his goal was to become so thoroughly versed in the offense that he could help other rookies.

“He’s one of those guys who wants to know why,” Joseph said. “You put something in, you put a play in, you talk about it, you give him the progressions, whether it’s run or pass, he wants to know why.

“When you have a guy like that, he’s hungry for it, and you love to know that — because now he becomes a coach on the field for you. Once he gets it and learns this whole system, he’ll become a coach on the field.”

Joseph called Williams dialed in and focused and said he has been in the building early as he tries to build his knowledge base. Joseph’s comments jibe with what USC coach Lincoln Riley said on draft weekend about Williams’ constant quest for constructive feedback.

“I don’t know that I’ve had any player that came up to me more and just wanted to sit down and talk about how he could get better — outside of just the normal position meeting,” Riley said then. “We were together all the time. But he just always wanted to be talking about that and always wanted more.”

Photos: Inside Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall

2. Rome Odunze could benefit in several ways from playing alongside veterans Keenan Allen and DJ Moore.

Beatty said he didn’t know if Odunze, the No. 9 pick out of Washington, could find two better mentors than he has in Allen and Moore, who are entering their 12th and seventh NFL seasons, respectively. Beatty especially likes that Odunze will get to learn from receivers with contrasting skill sets.

“DJ is like a bull in a china shop, and Keenan is like paint the edges on Picasso. At the end of the day, you get every angle,” Beatty said. “And Rome is kind of in between. There are times when he’s rugged and rough like DJ, and then there’s part of his game that’s intricate like Keenan.

“I think he can learn from both of them because his skill set is a little bit in between them, and it gives him a chance to be able to learn from two of the best in the business.”

Odunze joins a pair of receivers who both topped 1,200 yards in 2023. While that might take some of the pressure off the rookie on the field, Beatty believes Odunze will benefit from a different type of pressure.

“He does have the benefit of not having to jump out there and be the No. 1 on Day 1, like happens a lot of times,” Beatty said. “But there’s still pressure, whether it’s external pressure or internal pressure, and I think a lot of it is internal.

“As a coach, I stepped into a room with Keenan Allen like, ‘Hey, there’s some pressure on me to make sure I’m making him better, that he doesn’t just dismiss me because he knows it already. I’ve got to bring value to him.’ It’s the same thing. If I’m Rome, I step into the room and I look at one side and it’s DJ Moore and the other side it’s Keenan Allen, there’s some pressure to that too. Because I better step in and know that I better live up to these guys’ expectations. Which he will.”

3. Chris Beatty’s position group is three times as attractive as when he joined the Bears.

A couple of months ago, Beatty’s son “was doing cartwheels” because he could tell from the look on his father’s face what was about to happen.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles had called Beatty when the idea of a trade for Allen came up in mid-March, doing his due diligence on the six-time Pro Bowl selection whom Beatty coached for three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. Then Beatty got the call that the trade was happening while he was with his son.

His son was ecstatic. And Beatty couldn’t believe it was real that he would reunite with the player he called a “coach’s dream.”

“He’s one of those guys that everyone can lean on because there’s not a look out there that he hasn’t seen, and he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve been around,” Beatty said. “He’s a great coach off the field. He can reiterate things because he knows how I think, and I know how he thinks, so he knows how to say it the way I would like for it to be said to the younger guys.

“He’s one of these guys that everyone’s grown up watching, so when you actually get a chance to go out there … you see why he is what he is, as opposed to just the highlights on Twitter and YouTube.”

Allen became the second of Beatty’s former players to reunite with the coach. Beatty also coached Moore in college at Maryland and said the receiver is like family to him.

On top of the Allen addition, Beatty now gets to coach Odunze, whose length and ability to make contested catches are the first things he noted. Since beginning to work with Odunze, Beatty also has learned that the rookie is “super smart.”

“We went through this process in the draft trying to find the smarter guys and talking to them. And all of these guys are really smart, but he’s super smart,” Beatty said. “He’s able to pick things up. And I think he’s got a grasp of a pro set that you get from being in a college offense that has some pro principles in it, so I think that gave him a leg up. But he’s one of those guys that picks things up very quickly.”

4. Thomas Brown was impressed by Caleb Williams’ athletic ability, off-platform throws and arm talent in the scouting process.

The Bears passing game coordinator said Williams’ film over his college career at Oklahoma and USC was the obvious starting point for evaluations. Deeper into the scouting process, Brown — who was the offensive coordinator for Bryce Young in his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers — was impressed with Williams’ intangibles.

“The connection piece. He pulls everyone together,” Brown said. “Just the overall demeanor. He’s upbeat, super competitive, which I love. You’ve got to have that competitive spirit. But he’s a grinder at the same time.”

Waldron noted he began to understand that competitiveness when he watched Williams’ effort until the end of a blowout loss to UCLA in 2023. And in a much smaller way, Brown saw it emerge at rookie minicamp when Williams and undrafted rookie quarterback Austin Reed had a throwing competition at practice.

“Juices kind of getting going there a little bit,” Brown said. “It was good to see. We’ll have some stuff in the quarterback room to amp up the stakes going forward.”

5. The mental aspect of the game is Kiran Amegadjie’s focus for now.

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The third-round pick out of Yale is expected to sit out the on-field portion of the offseason program as he recovers from October surgery to repair his quadriceps.

But offensive line coach Chris Morgan believes there’s plenty of opportunity to grow for Amegadjie.

“Classroom’s big,” Morgan said. “Being out on the field watching the drills is big. You can actually stand behind and take really great mental reps. A lot of growth we can accomplish in the next month for sure.”

Poles said on draft weekend his hope is Amegadjie can work his way into a swing tackle role and potentially compete for a starting spot this season or next. For now, Morgan wants Amegadjie to take the mental work “to the max.”

“Be obsessed with it, the learning part, and that way when we come back, he can hit the ground running even faster,” Morgan said.