Jeff Rodgers won’t predict that he saw superstardom coming for Drew Brees — “In 1995? No,” he said, smiling — but he knew the quarterback had something special when they were teammates at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.
A year older than the future Saints quarterback, the Bears special teams coordinator was Brees’ center.
“Did everything right,” Rodgers said Thursday. “There wasn’t a whole lot of repeats in practice because of anything he was doing. I mean, he was on point. Drew has always been a guy with a chip on his shoulder.”
The Rodgers family moved to Austin when Jeff was a freshman; their dad was an assistant coach at the University of Texas.
Eventually, Jeff’s brother Jay — the Bears’ defensive line coach — was Westlake’s varsity quarterback. Their younger brother Jonny was the JV quarterback before tearing his knee and being replaced by Brees.
“He’s been challenged at every level of his life and he’s responded to the challenge . . . ” Jeff Rodgers said. “He’s a sure-fire Hall of Fame guy.”
Jones to start?
Christian Jones has been playing so well that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he’s likely to keep him in the starting lineup Sunday. Fangio said Jones was “just getting better and better,” and detailed his growth since the Bears introduced him to the position in 2015.
“Inside linebacker, especially when you were a guy in college that played on the line of scrimmage, is a very, very hard transition,” he said. “And you need patience. Sometimes patience isn’t in abundance in this business.But I felt like he could improve all along and I still feel like he can improve more. He’s not playing perfect, but he’s playing damn good.”
Nick Kwiatkoski, who started Game 2 before hurting his pec, was active Sunday but did not play a snap. He’s no longer on the injury report. Fangio said he could cycle him into the game.
This and that
Guard Kyle Long practiced in full one day after receiving a maintenance day for his surgically repaired ankle. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (neck) and defensive end Mitch Unrein (quad) also practiced in full.
† Cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring), defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring), linebacker John Timu (ankle/knee) and receiver Markus Wheaton (groin) all remained out with injuries. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was sent home before practice with the flu.
† Running back Benny Cunningham (hamstring) and center Hroniss Grasu (hand) were limited.
† Coach John Fox said the Bears are interested in placing linebacker Jonathan Anderson on the practice squad if he clears waivers. The Bears cut him Thursday to make room for receiver Dontrelle Inman, for whom they traded a conditional seventh-round pick.
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