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Bears LB Jon Bostic is pushing himself back into form

Bears linebacker Jon Bostic pushed himself to a knee. Sweat drenched his face and overflowed into his eyes. His words were interspersed with deep breaths.

“I feel like I’m almost there,” Bostic said Tuesday after some post-practice conditioning work at Halas Hall. “My job is to get ready – get ready in a hurry.”

Bostic hasn’t flashed the potential he’s shown in the past in the Bears’ first two preseason games. His 54 snaps so far this preseason have been unimpressive compared to the 51-yard pick-six he had against the Panthers in his first exhibition in 2013.

The ailments that hindered Bostic’s back, hip and shin and kept him from the offseason program have made things difficult.

His inactivity opened the door for Shea McClellin and Christian Jones at inside linebacker in coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense. McClellin and Jones have solidified their positions with their final audition coming Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bostic and Mason Foster are clearly playing catch-up. It’s fair to wonder what their roles will be. They’ve been running with the second-team defense since the offseason program.

But don’t overlook Bostic, the 50th overall selection in 2013 who led the Bears in tackles last season.

Bostic’s confidence hasn’t been shaken by his situation. When asked about the competition at inside linebacker, Bostic shifted the discussion to the big picture.

“We’ve got a long ways to go,” he said.

The previous regime highly valued Bostic. He started 17 games over his first two years and handled the defensive calls. He had a big future.

The new coaching staff, however, has been more impressed by Jones and McClellin. Fangio and coach John Fox seem to praise Jones and McClellin at every opportunity.

After two preseason games, it’s apparent that Fox and Co. still are figuring out what Bostic can be in 2015.

“[Bostic is] making good progress,” Fox said after practice. “We didn’t get a chance to look at him much in the offseason; he was healing.

“I don’t know that anybody out there is 100 percent because it’s football, but he’s been cleared to play, medically cleared, so from that aspect, he’s 100 percent.”

Bostic said he isn’t meeting with trainers regularly, “unless I was going to talk to them and say something was wrong.” And nothing is wrong now. He’s practicing in full.

“I feel better every day,” Bostic said. “That’s the thing that’s positive about everything. I’m feeling better every day with everything I’m asked to do.”

Bostic isn’t worried about having a recurring injury situation. But he did deal with the same issues that limited him last season.

“I played with it last year,” Bostic said. “It happened in the middle of the season. I came back. I was out like a week or two, and I played the rest of the season and I was fine.

“For us, treatment-wise, they just wanted to make sure I was good going forward and I was patient with everything. I feel great.”

Now he needs to play great.

The terminology is different, but Fangio’s defense, Bostic said, is similar to the one he excelled in at Florida, including its complexities.

“My job,” Bostic said, “is to be the best player I can be.”

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