At 30, Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara knows he’s getting older and is convinced he’s still getting better.
“The game against the Eagles [in Week 9] — that was probably the best game I’ve ever played in my career,” said Amukamara, a nine-year veteran completing his third season with the Bears. “I was targeted, got no catches [against], got some [pass break-ups] and made all my tackles.
“To be in Year 9 and still have room to grow and play your best game, that was very encouraging for me. Because when you get up to Year 9, Year 10, it’s so far past the average [NFL career length], you always have it in your mind, ‘OK, could this be the end of my career?’ Or, ‘Could this be the middle?’ because a guy like Charles Woodson played 17 or 18 years.
“So you never know. My mindset is — I call it ‘checking the engine’ — listening to my body, and can I still play press? Can I still cover? And I feel I proved that this year.”
Amukamara realizes he doesn’t have a lot of numbers to back that up. He has no interceptions after getting three last season, though his 10 pass break-ups in 14 games are close to the 12 he had in 15 games last season. But his errors appeared a little more glaring and costly.
“There were a couple of plays that happened this year that, to the fans or the regular eye, no one knows what happened in the defense. But in here, we know,” Amukamara said Thursday in the Bears’ locker room. “I feel like I had a pretty good year. Numbers and stats might not show it. But if you put on the film, you see what I’m doing.”
That said, Amukamara knows the reality of the NFL. At his age, and with a $10 million cap hit for 2020, his future in Chicago is not promised. While nursing a strained hamstring, he has been sharing time with second-year cornerback Kevin Toliver, who has acquitted himself well in a part-time role.
“It’s always cheaper and younger. [I’m] definitely aware of that,” Amukamra said. “And Toliver’s a great player. He made plays against Green Bay . . . Dallas and last week against Kansas City. He’s been playing solid.
“The reason we’ve been [rotating] is to get me back in a groove and manage my hamstring. But I can’t be too worried about what they’re doing upstairs. The Bears are going to do what’s best for them. And Prince is going to do what’s best for Prince. That’s just how it is. I’m just really grateful and thankful to be a part of what’s going on here. And, yeah, I’m excited to continue to play.”