Nickel back Buster Skrine liked the energy that he felt from coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace when he met them at Halas Hall.
Receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson said he wanted to be a part of the Bears’ culture — a winning one after their 12-4, NFC North-winning season.
And running back Mike Davis was excited to be on the same team as superstar outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
But what can the Bears’ newest players provide on the field? Here’s what the Bears’ three free-agent signings said about their styles and skills during a conference call on Thursday.
The back’s attack
Davis didn’t speak to Nagy about his role on offense yet. But Davis can start by assuming the role once held by Taquan Mizzell.
The Bears wanted a true third-down back — one who would allow Nagy to use Tarik Cohen differently. Davis isn’t a speedster but his sure hands and elusiveness in space make him different than Jordan Howard.
“[I’m] a running back that can do everything, can catch, run, make guys miss,” he said. “[I] can also pass protect. I’m here to do it all.”
Davis said Nagy’s offense features similar concepts to the Seahawks’. Last year, he totaled 728 yards and five touchdowns on 146 touches. It was by far his most productive season of his four-year career.
“What changed was me wanting to play more,” Davis said. “It just felt like every time I was able to get in I was able to make a spark or make a big play.”
Patterson laughed when asked about what he remembered about the two kickoffs he’s returned for touchdowns at Soldier Field in his career.
“I remember everything,” he said. “What do you want to know?”
Patterson’s first return touchdown of his career came at Soldier Field — 105-yard sprint for the Vikings on Sept. 15, 2013.
His second came last season with the Patriots. Patterson scored from 95 yards out, cutting into an early 10-point lead for the Bears during what eventually became a 38-31 loss. He changed the game in favor of the Patriots.
“Hopefully, I can bring that same energy that I did,” said Patterson, who planned to connect with former Bears returner Devin Hester.
The Bears certainly need an upgrade. Benny Cunningham was the Bears’ top kick returner last season, but he finished 40th among qualified players in total return yards with 173 on eight attempts.
Patterson returned 23 kickoffs for 663 yards and 28.8 average last season. Since entering the league in 2013, he also has returned the most kickoffs for touchdowns with six.
Unique chess piece
In Week 8 last season, the Patriots expanded Patterson’s responsibilities. He had 10 carries for 38 yards in a 25-6 victory in Buffalo. A week later, Patterson ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts during a 31-17 win against the Packers.
“I’ll be honest; it wasn’t pretty,” Patterson said. “But when [Patriots offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels asked me, ‘Can you play running back?’ I told him, ‘Hey, man, I can do anything you need me to do.’ I go out there knowing he trusts and believes in me.”
Nagy will do the same. Patterson is mismatch problem for an already creative offensive mind. From reverses, to screens, to deep balls and more, Nagy certainly will find a way to insert him into his offense.
Patterson also caught 21 passes for 247 yards and three scores during his only season with the Patriots.
“Every chance I get to get the ball in my hands, I just want to make explosive plays for me team,” Patterson said. “So it doesn’t matter where they line me up at, I’m just trying to go out there and play for my team.”
A feisty defender
Skrine has a history of penalties and fines. The Bears won’t like that if it continues. But he believes his style will fit right into a defense that was NFL’s best last season.
“I’m an aggressive player,” Skrine said. “Every team I’ve played on, we’ve played majority man [coverage]. So I get up and I press almost every down.
“So if you watch me play, if I do get a penalty, it doesn’t bother me, but it will bother me if it hurts the team. [But] I had my least amount of penalties last year [with the Jets], so I feel like I got better in that area.”
Skrine also provides the Bears with depth outside at cornerback. After four seasons with the Browns, he was moved into the slot by the Jets in 2015 because they had Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie at cornerback.
“I would say a good slot corner can cover and play the run,” Skrine said. “Nowadays, the slot corner is pretty much the starter. But at the same time, he’s got to be the cover guy and a linebacker. Because if you can’t tackle as a slot, they’ll keep running the ball your way.”
Some safety help
The Bears’ signing of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix became official after the team’s conference call with Skrine, Patterson and Davis concluded. He’ll speak with the media on Friday. But Skrine provided a sense of what Clinton-Dix could provide the Bears’ defense.
“I know he’s a playmaker; that’s one thing he does,” Skrine said. “He’s got a lot of interceptions — and he’s not scared to hit anybody.”
Clinton-Dix isn’t considered as reliable in run coverage as Bears-turned-Packers safety Adrian Amos. But Pro Football Focus — the analytics group that routinely praises Amos — had Clinton-Dix with eight missed tackles last season for the Packers and Redskins, respectively, compared to Amos’ nine for the Bears.
In terms of ball production, Clinton-Dix has 14 interceptions in 80 career games, while Amos has made three in 60.