When the Chicago Bears’ secondary is mentioned, the first thing most of us think of is how worrisome the situation at cornerback appears to be. After all, it seems as though when they’re lined up against either Alshon Jeffery or Kevin White, there’s a good chance Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller could get taken to school. Case in point:
As such, it’s sensible to assume that the revamped front seven, led by the acquisitions of DE Akiem Hicks and LBs Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, will have to do the lion’s share of the work on defense.
Hicks in particular, who reminds me somewhat of The Mountain from Game of Thrones, has looked quicker and more disruptive than anticipated, while Trevathan and Freeman have showed off the physicality, speed, and savvy that everyone expected to see when they were signed.
That said, the front line of the defense might not be the only thing to be optimistic about. Don’t look now, but the Bears’ rookie safeties—4th-rounder Deon Bush and 6th-rounder DeAndre Houston-Carson—have been making plays consistently in practice and, just maybe, might be better than we anticipated.
One of the notable position battles in camp has been to decide who will line up beside second-year player Adrian Amos, who is currently entrenched as the #1 free safety after starting all 16 games last season. Undrafted second-year strong safety Harold Jones-Quartey has so far held that spot, but the Bears’ new homegrown talent has been making sure the coaching staff notices them as well.
Bush has flashed throughout camp, showing off the physical, fearless nature on the field that he was known for at the University of Miami while also displaying some underrated range and athleticism while tracking balls in the air.
Deon Bush seems like he's going to become tone-setter of #Bears secondary sooner than later. Clean, physical PBU over middle. Keeps flashing
— Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) August 4, 2016
Just Thursday, assistant secondary coach Sam Garnes opened up about how Bush has been catching his eye in his first NFL training camp:
“When you brought up his name, it sent chills down my spine. I’m not joking. This kid is impressive… His range is as good as I’ve ever been around in my career. Impressive range — I did not expect that from him. On tape, I knew he was quick and fast, but I did not know he had all that range. Now let’s see how far he’ll go.”
From the looks of it, Bush appears to be next in line behind Jones-Quartey, who has also had a solid camp and has established himself as a tough, vocal presence on the back line of the defense. If the rookie continues his progression and also flashes on special teams, however, look for the former Miami Hurricane to start getting meaningful snaps sooner rather than later.
Not to be forgotten, sixth-round pick DeAndre Houston-Carson’s versatility has been getting noticed recently as well. Known mainly for his special teams ability coming out of college—he blocked nine kicks in college at William and Mary—Houston-Carson has made jarring plays at the line of scrimmage in the run game and has gotten a hand on a few passes as well, including one on Friday.
When asked about him, Garnes chimed in that while Amos, Jones-Quartey, Bush, and even 4th-round pick Deiondre Hall have gotten more attention, Houston-Carson is not to be taken lightly:
“He (Houston-Carson) is not a throw-in. Remember I said that. He’s well-rounded. Not a jack of all trades. He’s trying to be a king of all trades. He’s really good. You tell him something once, you watch tape and you see him do it… He takes the perfect notes. He’s focused.”
Of course, the young safeties have had their teaching moments in their rookie year—for instance, both were called out for dropping interceptions Wednesday. Bush has even been on the wrong end of a few Daniel Braverman highlights, though, to be honest, no Bear DB has been able to stop him from doing whatever he wants.
But the impressions they’ve been making early in training camp on a very good coaching staff, as well as the little I’ve had a chance to see, suggests that these new guys are both talented and determined enough to demand playing time, whether on defense or special teams.
Like the rest of the Bears fans out there, I can’t wait to see what the two rookies do when it’s time to hit someone not on their team, starting with their first NFL action against the Denver Broncos next Friday. It would be nice to see more evidence that the Bears have finally drafted well at a position that has plagued them since the days of Mike Brown and Chris Harris.
Then, maybe we can get some new blood in here at cornerback…