As we get closer to the start of the NFL regular season, it appears Sam Acho will emerge as the starting linebacker opposite Leonard Floyd. The Bears vet has been in a position battle for the starting role against rookie Kylie Fitts and the newly acquired linebacker Aaron Lynch.
With Lynch still suffering from a hamstring injury and Fitts’ inexperience in the NFL, Acho, the six-year vet, has emerged as the more than likely starting linebacker.
Fitts comes to the Bears with a bad case of troubling injuries he encountered during college. In 2016, Fitts suffered a Lisfranc fracture to his foot but it only sidelined him for 2 games. However, in 2017 Fitts dealt with injuries to his foot and shoulder which made him sit out a handful of games for the season. During his final year in college, Fitts had 23 tackles and one forced fumble.
As for Lynch, the Bears signed him this offseason with the intent to start him with Floyd. Unfortunately, Lynch is forced to be sidelined until his hamstring battle is over with and has yet to step foot onto the field for a full practice as a result. The Bears already knew Lynch would be a “risky’ signing when they brought him on, however, the Bears believe he will be a great addition when healthy.
During his rookie year, he had 17 tackles and 6 sacks managing to play all 16 games. Last year, having only played 7 games in total prior to his injury, he had 1 sack and 5 tackles.
Aaron Lynch and Kylie Fitts are both younger than Sam Acho but, with both Lynch and Fitts recovering from injuries, the vet Acho is in the spotlight. With youth, you have speed, athleticism, and hunger that some vets in Acho’s position may lack. And with Acho coming into his seventh season, he is a lot slower compared to a healthy Aaron Lynch and a Fitts who posted a 4.69 40-yard dash.
However, Acho’s veteran savviness and having experienced the game of football at the highest level, he is equipped with a skillset that his younger counterparts lack.
During Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, Fitts received most of the playing time on the edge with Acho not playing and Lynch sitting out with an injury.
Kylie Fitts overwhelms rookie TE Nick Keizer from Grand Valley St. for the sack pic.twitter.com/6imQrh0byS
— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) August 3, 2018
Fitts showed what he could do by creating some pressure on the quarterback and recording sack during the game. He used his length to get by the offense as well as his speed. It was a positive sign for the rookie early in his career.
The Bears will return to Olivet Nazarene for practice on Saturday as they will hold three-straight open practices in preparation for their preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Over the course of the next few weeks, time will tell who will surely lock in the starting role and fortunately for Acho, time appears to be on his side.