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Upbeat Christian Jones facing uphill battle at OLB head-on

Bears linebacker Christian Jones (59) puts a big hit on Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer last November at Soldier Field. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bears essentially recruited over Christian Jones in the offseason — signing Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in free agency and drafting Nick Kwiatkoski at inside linebacker, where Jones started 14 games last year. But the former undrafted free agent from Florida State is still here — with a new position and a new number — determined not to get caught in the undertow of the revamping of the Bears’ defense under Vic Fangio.

“This is a team sport,” Jones said after mini-camp practice Wednesday at Halas Hall. “Like I said when I [signed] here, it’s a blessing to be here and be in this building. I thought it was awesome being able to grab the guys they felt can help this team. That’s why every guy wants to play a sport — you want to win. So if moving me and trying me in different spots will help me, I’m all for it. I’ve always been a team guy.”

The stakes, though, are a little higher for Jones, who has been moved to outside linebacker. Even though he has started 19 games in two seasons with the Bears, the offseason upgrades under general manager Ryan Pace have put Jones’ roster spot in peril. He’ll be fighting for training camp reps behind Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, rookie Leonard Floyd and veteran Sam Acho. The Bears kept five outside linebackers most of last season.

The upbeat Jones, still just 25, is looking at the bright side. He’s at least getting a shot.

“I’m a positive person,” said Jones, who was the Bears’ second-leading tackler last season with 98 and also had four pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. “There’s a lot of guys from last season that aren’t here and I’m still here. So that shows right there that they have faith in what I can do.

“And I’m 100 percent. I’m confident with that. And I know what I can do. Competition’s good for sports. It brings out the best in everybody. I’m excited and happy to be here and ready to see where we can go.”

Though Jones was not a high-impact player at inside linebacker, he was second in the NFL in tackling efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus. And he has experience on the outside — both at Florida State and in the Bears’ 4-3 under Mel Tucker.

“I probably showcase a lot more of my ability — running and tracking down the ball and stuff like that,” said Jones, who gave up jersey No. 59 to Trevathan and wears No. 52. “I feel like it’s a good spot for me. I’ve got great coaches. Fangio, he knows what he’s doing. Hurtt [outside linebacker coach Clint Hurtt] is a guy who’s going to demand the best out of you every day. They thought I fit well there. I’m just going to run with it.”