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Outside linebacker Kylie Fitts has potential to be key pass rusher for Bears

Bears rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts (left, sacking Cal's Jared Goff in 2015), a sixth-round draft pick from Utah, has been impressive in early practices at Bears training camp. | Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune

BOURBONNAIS — Rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts has all the tools to become a dominant pass rusher because of his speed and size, but he also has an injury-plagued past.

After being sidelined for most of his last two seasons at Utah with various injuries, the 6-4, 260-pound Fitts came to the NFL looking to prove himself.

‘‘Last season it was tough sitting out all those plays, but I just ignore [it],’’ Fitts said after the Bears’ practice Saturday. ‘‘I don’t think about injuries; I just come out and think about performing really well.’’

That’s just what Fitts did in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday against the Ravens. Fitts, who was coming off an arm injury suffered early in camp, turned in a solid performance with four tackles, including a sack.

‘‘It’s very important,’’ said Fitts, whom the Bears selected in the sixth round (181st overall). ‘‘I want to come out here and perform every practice and game, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity.’’

Fitts was proud of his performance but also saw areas of weakness. He said he wants to improve his technique, especially when rushing the passer.


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‘‘You can’t come out here at a practice and take some plays off,’’ Fitts said. ‘‘Every snap, every drill, you’re going 100 percent.’’

Coach Matt Nagy said he has been impressed with Fitts’ ‘‘high motor.’’ He also praised Fitts’ pass-rushing instincts, although there have been several times in camp when coaches have had to tell him to cool it against the Bears’ quarterbacks.

Nagy, however, pointed out Fitts made several errors in coverage against the Ravens.

‘‘For somebody like [Fitts], you start to build the library of what he’s doing in real, live snaps,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He flashed on a couple, but he could’ve been better on a few, as well. Now you come back here to [Olivet Nazarene] and you watch the tape and you talk through it and you teach him.”

The Bears have a few question marks at outside linebacker, especially because Aaron Lynch is out with a hamstring injury. Nagy said Lynch is ‘‘getting better each day’’ but didn’t expect him to return this week.

There is an opportunity for Fitts to earn some playing time, but he still has a lot of work to do in the coming weeks.