Jon Bostic’s apprenticeship as the backup to D.J. Williams at middle linebacker officially is a competition for the starting job.
Bostic, the Bears’ second-round draft pick from Florida, started in the middle against the Carolina Panthers in place of the injured Williams on Friday night. While he probably made his share of mistakes, he also made the kind of big play that automatically earns you a better look. Bostic intercepted a Cam Newton pass in the first quarter and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown and the Bears’ first score of the Marc Trestman era.
‘‘It’s significant that when young guys step up and make plays in the game, it’s going to help their confidence,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We’re not ready to anoint him certainly. He’s in a competition. He’s going to play a lot of football.
‘‘I was encouraged by his stamina. I don’t know how many plays he played, but he was on special teams as well. It’s great to see the young guys have success and be able to identify with doing good things. He did that [Friday] night.’’
With Williams still week-to-week with a calf injury, Bostic took the first step toward challenging for the starting job. At this stage it’s possible he could win it by the first game of the regular season.
‘‘Right now I’m not even looking at that,’’ Bostic said. ‘‘I’ve got to get a lot better before I can even think about being the starter and running out with some of these guys that have done all these great things around here. I’ve got a lot of stuff to learn.’’
Bostic is aware of of his opportunity. But you don’t want to get too carried away. D.J. Williams still is the Bears’ starting middle linebacker.
‘‘Right now I’m trying to take it day-by-day,’’ Bostic said. ‘‘Look at the film and just try to improve on the mistakes and get ready for practice on Sunday.’’