LAKE FOREST – For Bears fourth-round safety Brock Vereen, the rookie minicamp that concluded Sunday with an abbreviated, 45-minute session was an opportunity to build camaraderie with many of his new teammates and coaching staff.
Some fans view Vereen as a potential savior given the leakiness in the Bears' last line of defense last season, but the former Minnesota Gopher prefers to focus on learning as much as possible and letting the chips fall where they may.
“Right now I feel like I’m in sponge phase,” Vereen said. “Just taking everything in, trying to come in every day to show as much effort as possible, and if at the end of the day that gets me on the field, then so be it.”
Vereen minimally should see plenty of time on the field as a special teamer, likely alongside first-round cornerback – and Vereen’s roommate this weekend – Kyle Fuller.
“I’m very close with him,” Vereen said of Fuller.
Vereen said he also relished this weekend’s opportunity to strengthen ties with some of his former Big 10 brethren such as Wisconsin center Ryan Groy, who, until recently, was across enemy lines.
“All the B1G guys I’ve known just from playing against them, seeing them at media stuff, and it’s always cool to get to know the person that you’ve been hating for the last four years,” Vereen said with a smile.
Marc Trestman’s up-tempo practices were just what Vereen was looking for this weekend.
“It’s been such a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to put a helmet on,” he said. “I think [the fast-paced style that Trestman has] keeps you on your toes throughout practice, and it’s more realistic.”
Although only so much can be accomplished in one weekend, Vereen, whom defensive backs coach Jon Hoke praised for his intelligence and communication skills, said the progress he made between Friday and Sunday was “night and day.”
After a thorough offseason overhaul of the defense, the Bears are counting on a similar contrast between last year’s unit and the one that continues to take shape in 2014.