Rookies Jaquan Brisker, Jack Sanborn are big H.I.T.S. in Bears’ preseason opener

Brisker looked the part of expected Week 1 starter with impact plays. Sanborn, a Lake Zurich graduate, had a glorious Bears debut with two takeaways, a tackle for loss and two special-teams tackles.

SHARE Rookies Jaquan Brisker, Jack Sanborn are big H.I.T.S. in Bears’ preseason opener
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Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker (9) drives Chiefs running back Isiah Pachecho out of bounds at the Bears’ 5-yard line on the Chiefs’ opening drive Saturday.

David Banks, AP Photos

Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker has never not felt comfortable since becoming a Bear. The second-round draft pick has embraced the expectation of being a Week 1 starter. He has had no trepidation about the adjustment to the NFL level. And he was unfazed by a brief holdout before the start of training camp. 

He has been the epitome of confident without being cocky — a guy in the right place at the right time who seems to know he’ll be here for a while. 

So it wasn’t a big surprise that Brisker seemed to fit right in as a starter in his NFL debut in the Bears’ 19-14 victory over the Chiefs in the preseason opener at Soldier Field.

“I had to get warmed up at first,” Brisker said. “I felt like it was great being in the -stadium and playing next to great guys like Eddie [Jackson] and the rest of the defense. I thought it was a great experience for the first time.” 

Brisker wasn’t perfect — he missed a tackle in the first series — but he acclimated pretty quickly. By the second quarter — against the Chiefs’ backup offense — he showed the instinct and aggressiveness that had the Bears celebrating his availability with the 48th overall pick of the draft. 

In one four-play sequence, Brisker put a big hit on running back Skyy Moore, dropped running back Derrick Gore for a two-yard loss and “baited” third-string quarterback Shane Buechele into a near-interception on a pass break-up that forced a punt. He finished with four tackles. 

“I was just getting warmed up,” he said. “Just getting comfortable out there.”

Asked where Brisker made the biggest -impression, coach Matt Eberflus basically said, everywhere. 

“The tacking. Deflecting the ball — I think he should have had maybe a takeaway or two,” Eberflus said. “He was high-energy. Man, he likes to hit. I really liked that aggressive style for him — how he’s playing right now.” 

Getting acclimated appears to be Brisker’s biggest challenge because he wasn’t -really surprised by anything he saw — even as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ first-team offense romped to an opening touchdown drive. 

“No, not surprised,” Brisker said. “I feel like at first, Pat was trying to hard-count us to see what we were in, and eventually we got warmed up to it.”

Like Jackson in 2017 — when he was -expected to beat out Adrian Amos for the starting job and did — Brisker continues to meet early expectations. And his promising debut only increased his confidence that it’s just a matter of time. 

“Yeah, it did,” he said “My first series, I was a little too happy feet. I was just trying to [disguise] what we were in. But eventually I started getting warmed up and showing our disguise and things like that. And then I started making the plays that I made, so …” 

Though Brisker looks like the real deal, undrafted rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn had the biggest day. The Lake Zurich product from Wisconsin stepped up like every rookie hopes to in his NFL debut. He had an interception, a fumble recovery, five tackles, including one for loss, and two special-teams tackles to boot. 

“First impressions are very important, so it was definitely a good feeling,” Sanborn said. “But there’s still a lot of stuff I have to improve on. And you’ve got to stay consistent. Taking it day-by-day and continuing to improve.

Sanborn said he didn’t know how many family and friends he had at the game — “That’s a question for my mom,” he said. But he obviously was proud to do well in front of them. 

“It was awesome,” he said. “And not only in front of them, but to do it with this team and wearing the ‘C’ on the helmet — definitely very important. Just gotta continue.”

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