Bears safety Jaquan Brisker returns from injury with ‘Takeaway King’ dreams

Brisker said he’ll be “120%” ready by the time the Bears open their season Sept. 11 against the 49ers.

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A photo of Bears safety Jaquan Brisker playing in a recent preseason game.

Brisker was back after missing more than two weeks because of thumb surgery.


Every rookie is an unknown until he plays real games, but Jaquan Brisker always seems to have a smile beginning to curl when he’s asked about what he’s going to show everyone when the season starts. It’s like he knows he’s got something really good and can’t wait to unveil it.

Brisker gave a preview of his dynamic, thunderous brand of safety in his lone preseason game — he snuffed out a Chiefs’ drive single-handedly with two hard hits and a pass breakup that he nearly intercepted — and now he’s ready for his big premiere.

“I just want to show that what you’ve seen and heard . . . it’s consistent,” he said. “Just come in, just show people who Jaquan Brisker really is.

“Just a balanced safety who can play up high or down below. A lot of people say I’m this or that; I’m not. I’m versatile. I’ve always been like that and I will be like that here.”

Brisker was back at practice Wednesday for the first time since having surgery on his right thumb after hurting it against the Chiefs on Aug. 13 and wore a “Takeaway King” shirt afterward to leave no doubt about his plans.

Penn State coaches gave him that shirt when he played there, and he said he wore it as a message to teammates and the rest of the league.

“I’ll be a takeaway king [in] the NFL, too,” he said.

Brisker still isn’t sure exactly how he suffered the thumb injury and was surprised that it required surgery. He didn’t expect to miss a single practice at the time, but the trainers told him otherwise.

He wore a small brace Wednesday, but said it won’t be a factor whatsoever when the Bears open against the 49ers on Sept. 11. He said he hasn’t had any issues tackling or catching and will be “120%” ready by then.

In his mind, he was ready months ago. When the Bears wrapped up offseason practices in June, he felt he had the playbook down and was eager to start hitting.

He was overeager, it turns out. Brisker wanted to bulk up in order to make his mark more emphatically against NFL-sized players, so he worked his way from 203 to 215 pounds. It didn’t feel right, and he’s back down to 205 now and still feeling plenty powerful.

“If I was 190, I would deliver the hits,” he said.

Brisker’s multifaceted game was at the forefront of what compelled the Bears to draft him out of Penn State in the second round at No. 48 overall. But his ability to play up in the box pairs particularly well with veteran safety Eddie Jackson and his penchant roving the deep secondary. If it plays out the way the Bears envision it, they’ll be perfect partners.

“I’m excited for that, man . . . just to see what he’s capable of doing and just to see the type of dog he has in him,” Jackson said. “He’s a feisty guy, man. He wants to hit every play. To have a guy like that is exciting.”

If Brisker was that amped up during the seemingly endless run of training-camp practices, imagine how he’ll be in the opener after “being inside all cooped up” to rehab the injury. It promises to be an explosive debut.

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