Wide receiver Brandon Marshall may be gone, but second-year cornerback Kyle Fuller still has plenty of practice nemeses to contend with daily.
Alshon Jeffery remains, and he’s in hot pursuit of a contract extension. The Bears also drafted Kevin White — another athletic, explosive challenge – in the first round.
“Everybody has their own little things, but [White is] a good receiver,” Fuller said when asked to compare Marshall and White. “We’re just enjoying working with him, getting him better and him getting us better. … Alshon is Alshon. He just gets you ready to play on Sunday.”
The Bears are counting on Fuller, the 14th overall pick in the 2014 draft, to be one of their best players this season. Coach John Fox has spoken very highly of him, mentioning his high draft grade on him, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has done the same.
“We expect him to be a good corner in this league,” Fangio said last month.
Two offseason workout programs and training camps spent covering top-end receivers who are bigger than he is will help that.
Fuller remains as soft-spoken as he was as a rookie, saying that he has to improve “everything” in his second season. He had less success as a rookie as the season wore on, but he also played through a broken bone in his right hand and dealt with a hip pointer injury.
“Football is a grind, but you’ve got to work through it,” Fuller said. “That’s what you get paid to do.”
Fuller’s final numbers from last season still were impressive: 14 starts, four interceptions, 10 pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
“I felt like [my rookie season] was pretty good, but you could always get better,” Fuller said. “There are some things I can work on and just keep getting better.”
The Bears had the third-worst passing defense in 2014, and Fuller often had the toughest individual matchups, including the Green Bay Packers’ Jordy Nelson and Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson.
Fuller and the rest of the Bears’ secondary would have benefitted from a better pass rush, and Fangio’s 3-4 defense could provide that this season.
“We know how good of a coordinator he is,” Fuller said. “We enjoy working with him.”
As far as coverages, Fuller said Fangio is calling for “a little bit of everything” during their offseason training.
“I’m liking the positions that they’re putting us in [the secondary],” Fuller said. “I think we’ll be pretty good at it.”
The Bears should be able to tell with Fuller covering Jeffery and White on their practice fields.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns