LB Jon Bostic in comfort-zone defense

Written By BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter Posted: 06/06/2014, 08:14pm

It was a minor dispute between two linebackers on a hot day during organized team activities. But it also signaled linebacker Jon Bostic’s newfound comfort level in his second season.

Playing on the weak side with Lance Briggs absent, an animated Bostic pointed at one hole and shouted instructions at middle linebacker D.J. Williams, who emphatically pointed at another gap.

Confusion reigned for a few moments before linebackers coach Reggie Herring stepped in.

The Bears are implementing changes under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker this offseason. Bostic, the 50th overall pick in 2013, thinks they fit his talents much better than the Bears’ old cover-2 scheme.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year, especially with all the changes to the defense,” Bostic said after OTAs this week at Halas Hall.

“A lot of the changes that we did make, it’s a lot more natural for me.

“I can play how I’ve been taught literally from little league to high school to college to now. It’s back to playing how I used to.

‘‘There were a lot of things that we did last year that worked, but now we changed a couple of those things, and it’s more natural.”

Shea McClellin’s switch from end to linebacker has rightfully received the most attention this offseason, but turning Bostic into a success is just as important.

Bostic started nine games last season after Williams was injured, finishing with 57 tackles, two sacks and an interception.

But he never turned his preseason success in 2013 — highlighted by some big hits that prompted numerous calls for him to be the Week  1 starter in the middle — into impact plays during the regular season.

Concerns about his progress mounted as he overran assigned holes and struggled dropping in coverage.

It also didn’t help that injuries on the defensive line often left him in vulnerable spots.

“It was just a learning process,” Bostic said. “It was just coming in every day. Those times when you do fail, you learn about yourself.

‘‘It was a chance to learn about this defense, how it all works, because I wasn’t in a cover-2 base [defense] in college. We were mainly a cover-1 team. We would play some [cover-3], but we were a man-to-man team, where we felt our athletes were better than yours, so that’s how we played.”

But a new year and new defense are here for him.

Tucker said his changes include combatting running games differently, and Bostic echoed that, saying, changes “mainly with the run fits” feel right to him. It was during a drill going over run assignments that Bostic and Williams debated.

“Those things will be a lot more natural to me, playing inside-out on it [against runs],” said Bostic, who has worked at every linebacker spot during OTAs.

“What I did a lot of at Florida is what we’re back to doing now.”

Florida ran a hybrid defense, and it’s likely that Tucker took into account Bostic’s strengths when contemplating the changes that won over coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.

Tucker hinted at it last month, saying, “We’re building on some of [Bostic’s] experience from a year ago that is going to help him moving more.”

Herring said his goal was to get Bostic “to tempo things and not just be fast all the time.”

A starting job in the middle or on the strong side is Bostic’s if everything goes —or fits — right.

“You’re coming out here and you’re competing against linebackers, against the offense,” Bostic said. “That’s what we play the game for.”


Twitter: @adamjahns

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