It’s early, but — rookie Eddie Jackson takes first-team reps at safety
BOURBONNAIS — It seems like only a matter of time before Bears rookie Eddie Jackson supplants incumbent starter Adrian Amos at safety, especially after the fourth-round pick from Alabama took first-team reps with veteran Quintin Demps in a light practice in shorts Saturday.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Jackson, who broke up a pass and had a tackle against the run in the Bears’ preseason opener against the Broncos on Thursday. “It’s helpful just being out there with the older guys and seeing how things work. And also being out there next to Quintin Demps. Just getting a feel for things and being in with those guys felt good.”
Jackson still has a lot to prove in the preseason to win the job, but he’s trending toward the starter’s role. Coach John Fox avoided addressing Jackson’s play at safety directly when asked about Jackson — often an indication that something’s up. Fox disdains addressing depth-chart movement or anything that might fuel speculation.
“He missed a lot of the offseason, being a rookie, but he’s got a really good football IQ,” Fox said. “I think you saw his return skills are capable. We averaged 10-plus yards in our punt return, which was a non-factor a year ago. All in all, I think he’s just going to continue to improve.”
Jackson has made a smooth transition to the NFL, in part because of his upbringing at Alabama.
“The speed of the game [in the NFL] is a little faster, but it’s not a real huge difference,” Jackson said. “But learning and putting in the work is the same thing. At Bama, their camp is harder than the camp here, so this kind of helps you on your body.”
Jackson cleared a mental hurdle with a 15-yard punt return in the second quarter, his first punt return since the one that ended his season when he suffered a broken leg.
“That felt great. It felt wonderful,” he said with a smile. “Just being on the field, stepping on the grass and being able to trust my leg. It was a great feeling.”
He can’t wait for the next opportunity Saturday at Arizona.
“Very anxious,” he said. “You put your foot in the door and see what it feels like, you feel the speed of the game. Now it’s time to go to work.”
Linebacker Jonathan Anderson (high ankle sprain) suffered the most serious injury against the Broncos, Fox said. Others who missed practice were linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (concussion protocol), running back Ka’Deem Carey (thigh bruise), wide receivers Josh Bellamy (ankle) and Rueben Randle (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jaye Howard (maintenance).
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