How ‘scrappy’ CBs Cre’Von LeBlanc, Bryce Callahan can help Bears

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Cre’von LeBlanc tries to make a tackle Thursday. (Getty Images)

Maybe they’ll become room-mates.

Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc have been talking about moving in together if they both make the Bears. They’re already friends. Both are undrafted cornerbacks from Conference USA schools who have been told their whole lives they’re too small.

“We’ll see how things go,” Callahan said. “We’re real cool. We’re buddies. We’re always here and there with each other.”

Ordinarily, two slot corners making the team would seem like a long shot. But the Bears look at both as more than just that.

LeBlanc, who’s listed generously at 5-11, 190 pounds, took  advantage of the Bears’ injury woes last season to show he can cover receivers on the outside. He had two of the team’s eight interceptions — only one team, the Jaguars,  had fewer — and returned one for a touchdown.

He feels more comfortable than he did last year, when he had to learn the playbook on the fly after he was claimed from the Patriots before Week 1.

“It ain’t always about the height or how fast you are — or how small . . . ” LeBlanc said. “I’ve been hearing it my whole life. Yeah, I got short arms. But when the ball’s in the air, we’re going to compete. I’m going to go hard for it.”

Callahan, who’s 5-10, 188 pounds, started the preseason opener as the slot corner. He has dealt with a sore ankle throughout camp, though, and didn’t practice Thursday night. He might be the most dynamic athlete on the team. He’s already the best dunker in basketball games.

When the Bears were searching for someone to replace the injured Kyle Fuller last year, they moved Callahan to the starting outside job in Week 4. He started the next five games before a lingering hamstring injury held him out against the Packers. He still finished the season with 10 starts.

“I don’t think they need each other to push each other, because they are competitive guys,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “If you’re going to be a little bit undersized, you better be a competitor, and both of them are. They’re both doing a good job.”

The Bears have trended toward taller outside cornerbacks in Fangio’s scheme. This offseason, they signed 6-2 Marcus Cooper and 6-0 Prince Amukamara to start. Kyle Fuller, who is fighting to make the team as a backup, is 6-0.

Still, a Bears’ secondary starved for production won’t discriminate due to a lack of size.

“I don’t really think size matters any more,” said slot receiver Kendall Wright, who faces both Callahan and LeBlanc in practice. “Scrappy dudes like them, you don’t need size. You just need to go out there and play and have heart and show everybody you can do it.”

If Callahan and LeBlanc do, there should be room on the team for both of them.

If so, cue the apartment shopping

“We hold each other accountable,” LeBlanc said. “We’re not like, ‘Oh, we’re competing against each other.’ . . . I push him and he pushes me. That’s how we hold the standard.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.



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