Kevin Byard Sends 3-Word Message to Caleb Williams After Early Struggles

Caleb Williams, Bears

Getty QB Caleb Williams of the Chicago Bears.

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams has discovered early that even the most touted prospect in a decade must navigate a steep NFL learning curve.

It was veteran safety Kevin Byard and other members of the Bears defense who authored that lesson for their rookie signal-caller on Thursday, May 23.

“We had a good day. I’m not going to sit here and lie about that,” Byard said of the team’s defensive unit, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN. “But to be honest, it’s to be expected. You have a returning top-15, top-10 defense, obviously going against a younger rookie quarterback who’s getting acclimated and learning things.”

The two-time All-Pro defensive back, who arrived in Chicago this offseason after eight strong seasons with the Tennessee Titans, also shared the message he communicated to Williams following the young quarterback’s struggles.

“I said something to him at the end of practice like, ‘Keep it going,'” Byard said. ‘”We’re going to keep making you better.’ And not necessarily saying he had a terrible day, but days like this are going to make you better.”

DJ Moore Joined Kevin Byard Providing Guidance to Bears QB Caleb Williams

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GettyChicago Bears safety Kevin Byard.

The Bears made Williams the No. 1 pick in April and added a Robin to his Batman just eight spots later by drafting wide receiver Rome Odunze as the 9th overall selection.

Odunze enters the receiver room in Chicago as likely the No. 3 pass-catcher on the roster behind DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, the latter of whom the Bears traded for earlier in the spring. The level of talent around Williams will only up the already sky-high expectations for the former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner as he steps directly into the fire as part of one of the most competitive divisions in the league.

Players like Moore and Allen will have to shoulder the burden of shepherding Williams into his own as the preseason continues and the regular season begins. Moore spoke about that responsibility and how it manifested in practice Thursday.

“It’s frustrating, but we also know that we’re learning a new system,” Moore said, telling Cronin he communicated that with Williams as the offense’s struggles were ongoing during 11-on-11 drills. “You’ve got to because our defense can get pretty rowdy, as you all know out there. Just calming everybody down in the huddle and just refocusing is the best thing.”

Bears’ Roster Remains Incomplete as Offseason Work Begins

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GettyChicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles.

The offseason work in Chicago has only just begun, so overreacting to good or poor performances in practice isn’t advisable, as the ramping up of both units to regular-season form is liable to be a lengthy process. However, key position groups could still change, particularly on the offensive line and at edge rusher.

The Bears’ two biggest concerns will be protecting Williams during his rookie season and creating disruption for opposing quarterbacks. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicted on Wednesday, however, that Chicago will be looking for upgrades at those spots again in 2025.

“Nobody should fault the Bears for drafting Williams and Odunze in the top 10 — and [GM Ryan] Poles could still add players in the months to come — but [no one should be] surprised if we’re sitting here next March counting on Chicago to prioritize offensive linemen and pass rushers in free agency,” Barnwell wrote.

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