Bears rookie DE David Bass won’t let himself feel stable
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter October 25, 2013 9:44PM
David Bass (right) came in when injuries struck and has inherited snaps from struggling Shea McClellin. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Updated: November 27, 2013 6:11AM
Family was coming, so David Bass went grocery shopping a few weeks ago.
He hadn’t done it since moving to Chicago.
‘‘I usually buy my meals week-to-week or day-by-day,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not going to invest everything into this kitchen, in case I get the call.’’
Every rookie fears The Call — especially rookies such as Bass, drafted in the seventh round from a small college.
The defensive end already has gotten it once — the Oakland Raiders waived him at the end of the preseason, and the Bears claimed him.
He fears it every week at Halas Hall, too, though his play would indicate he has little reason to.
With Shea McClellin struggling mightily, Bass has played more snaps each week since he was activated for the game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. McClellin’s snaps have dropped from 94 percent to 84 percent to 74 percent since Bass’ promotion from the practice squad.
Bass, called up when Henry Melton and Nate Collins were lost for the year and Stephen Paea missed two games, has three tackles in five games. He’s the highest-rated Bears defensive end, according to grades given out by Pro Football Focus, despite playing only 73 snaps. McClellin is the second-worst in the NFL.
Bass ‘‘made an impact play on a tackle for loss’’ on Sunday against the Washington Redskins, general manager Phil Emery said. Bass, he said, was one of the Bears who are ‘‘better than the players that we can bring in’’ as free agents.
The 6-4, 256-pounder from Missouri Western thinks he’s playing well, but he still fears being cut every week.
‘‘That’s always in the back of my head,’’ he said. ‘‘Always. I hope I did enough and contributed enough in the past week. That’s how I look at this.’’
He had to think twice before buying some furniture in Chicago.
‘‘If they call me and I don’t have a job, then I have furniture with no place to stay,’’ he said.
He admits he uses the perceived uncertainty — there are a half-dozen Bears who would be moved before Bass, if not more — as motivation.
‘‘You might think I feel like I’m not doing a good job — that’s how you should look at it,’’ he said. ‘‘In this industry, you just don’t know. It really humbles you and teaches you to enjoy what you have while you have it and make the most of every day. Because the next day’s not guaranteed. It’s unstable because you have guys in and out, in and out.’’
This weekend, Bass traveled to his alma mater in St. Joseph, Mo., where he racked up 40.5 career sacks, was named an All-American twice and, in his senior year, was listed as a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, given to the best Division II lineman.
His message to his brother Darrian, an outside linebacker for the Griffins: Enjoy your teammates. In college, Bass said, you know they’ll be around you for four years.
That’s not the case in the vagabond NFL, though Bass’ role is probably more established than he’d let himself believe.
‘‘It keeps you motivated, keeps you humble,’’ he said. ‘‘But at the same time, it ain’t relaxing. It can be stressful.’’