BOURBONNAIS — Not all interceptions in training camp are alike, and ‘‘taking it to the house’’ on the fields at Olivet Nazarene is often a farce.
But when Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off a short pass by quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the flat and returned it 20 yards or so to the end zone Sunday, it looked like a play that would happen on Sundays in the regular season.
‘‘It felt good,’’ Clinton-Dix said. ‘‘I haven’t been able to get one of those in my career [out of 14 interceptions with the Packers]. Just to be around a lot of guys that know how to get their hands on the ball and score touchdowns, it just put me closer to them. I’m excited.’’
Coach Matt Nagy indicated a bad route more than a bad throw by Trubisky led to the pick, but he gave Clinton-Dix his due.
‘‘He made a good play,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Ha Ha’s having a good camp. I love his mentality. He’s bought in completely to our culture. He’s a team player. He’s done everything we’ve asked and more. And he’s fit right in with that defense. . . . We’ve got pretty good players on the other side of the ball.’’
At a career crossroads after being traded from the Packers to the Redskins midway through last season, Clinton-Dix signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bears for the opportunity to shine in an elite defense. It’s only camp and a few preseason snaps, but the early indications are that he’ll fit in well with safety Eddie Jackson in coordinator Chuck Pagano’s defense, even though he’s not the complementary tackler Adrian Amos — who is now with the Packers — was.
‘‘I haven’t been a part of a group like this since I was a rookie in the league [with the Packers in 2014],’’ Clinton-Dix said. ‘‘Being able to be around this many guys with this much talent, elite players in the front seven, it’ll make my job easier. One of my coaches told me: ‘We’re not here to make the honor roll; we’re here to make plays.’ We’ll definitely have more chances to make plays and take chances.’’
With NFL Top 100 players at all three levels of their defense — end Akiem Hicks, outside linebacker Khalil Mack and Jackson — the supporting cast enhances the qualities of almost any newcomer. Clinton-Dix is a former Pro Bowl safety whose production faltered as the Packers’ defense regressed. It might have been the other way around — that the Packers’ defense faltered as Clinton-Dix regressed — but the Clinton-Dix/Amos ‘‘trade’’ could decide that debate.
So far, however, Clinton-Dix is meshing well with Jackson.
‘‘Without a doubt,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He joined in right away, and I think he was kind of feeling himself out in the early part of OTAs. Once he realized the communication and how these guys are, he sees that we like to have fun out there on defense, so he bought right in and is just being himself.’’