BOURBONNAIS – If Jon Bostic is feeling pressure over how much the Bears have put on his plate in his short NFL career, he’s doing a great job of hiding it.
After making nine starts as a rookie at middle linebacker in D.J. Williams’ absence because of a torn pectoral muscle, Bostic, the Bears’ second-round pick in 2013, was expected to compete with Shea McClellin for the starting strong-side opening in 2014.
In fact, Bostic is competing with both McClellin and Williams for as many as three openings – middle linebacker, strong-side linebacker and the second nickel linebacker job alongside Lance Briggs when training camp practices open Friday.
Does the constant shuffling make Bostic’s job more intense?
“Really, I don’t look at it like that,” he said on the first day of training camp. “… basically, they’re paying me to play football … so I’m going to come in here and do exactly what they ask me.”
After all, the position switches are nothing new for Bostic. He headed to the University of Florida expecting to play weak-side linebacker, but the arrival of Jelani Jenkins pushed Bostic inside to a position “he grew to love.”
After drafting Bostic and Khaseem Greene in 2013, general manager Phil Emery lauded both players for their versatile skill sets that allowed them to play all three linebacker positions. Bostic’s athleticism would seem to eventually make him a natural candidate to be Lance Briggs’ heir apparent, but Briggs is as entrenched as any player on the Bears’ defense. Bostic knows his best chance of playing is filling one of the current vacancies.
When he watches his rookie tape, Bostic sees growing pains, largely to be expected given the difficult situation he and the rest of his teammates were put in during an injury-ravaged 2013 season. There are also flashes such as his terrific interception against the Ravens, when he draped tight end Dallas Clark 20-plus yards down the middle of the field before flipping his hips and picking off Joe Flacco. It’s exactly the kind of play that has the Bears envisioning Bostic as a weapon in their sub package.
He said he can build off such positives, but watching the bad tape, often showing an inexperienced player struggling to diagnose and quickly get in position to make plays, is a bigger key to Bostic’s growth.
“I tend to look more at negative things than positive,” he said, “to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake again.
Fortunately, the Bears see plenty of positives – enough to entrust Bostic in potentially a number of different roles.
Bostic promises he’ll be ready for anything that comes his way. “I’m coming here every day, doing what I love to do, so really I can’t ask for more,” he said.