Bostic, Greene thrilled to be joining the Bears’ legacy of linebackers
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 27, 2013 10:16PM
EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 26: Jonathan Jean-Louis #1 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball as Khaseem Greene #20 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights defends on November 26, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 40-22. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Updated: May 30, 2013 2:54PM
Outside linebacker Khaseem Greene knows the history. He knows the names. He knows the legends.
Butkus. Singletary. Urlacher. Briggs.
“I’m coming into a great situation at basically the NFL equivalent of ‘Linebacker U.’,” Greene said Saturday, referring to the Penn State nickname, after the Bears selected the Rutgers star in the fourth round with the 117th selection.
The Bears were thrilled to be able to add two versatile, highly regarded linebackers in Greene and Florida middle linebacker Jon Bostic (50th overall) after a relatively tumultuous offseason that saw them part ways with Brian Urlacher.
Linebacker wasn’t just a need. It was a desire. It’s the position that’s defined the Bears for generations.
“In terms of linebackers, obviously we felt that we had to add to the group,” general manager Phil Emery said. “We wanted to add young players to the group. It worked out value-wise that at those picks, those were linebackers, and we were happy that happened.”
Selecting Bostic in the second round on Friday was a sign that the proverbial door may finally be shut on Urlacher. Bostic will learn the ropes at middle linebacker while working with veteran D.J. Williams.
Selecting Greene in the fourth round was a sign that the door may be locked. Emery said Greene can play all three linebacker spots but will focus on the outside.
Bostic and Greene may start out as special-teams players, but they are in a great position to learn from veterans — Williams, James Anderson and Pro Bowler Lance Briggs — with hope of being starters in 2014.
“[Bostic is] a guy that’s smart enough and has a great background at Florida to play the middle linebacker position, make the calls and do those things,” coach Marc Trestman said. “Khaseem has the flexibility to play the outside linebackers, to create more competition with the guys that we have, certainly. We’re excited about that [and] really excited about what they bring to the table, both as linebackers and as special-teams players.”
Greene (6-0, 241 pounds) may actually turn out to be a steal. A two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Greene caused an NCAA record 15 fumbles.
“Here’s a guy that really fits what we’re trying to do,” Emery said. “We really feel comfortable with him at three positions, which we talked about with Jon Bostic. He’d be a little bit more of the outside guy where Jon would be the inside guy starting out. That played a factor.”
What the Bears hope they have here on their hands is the second coming of Urlacher and Briggs.
That may sound like a pipe dream, but if they could pull it off, it would be a boon for the newly offensive-oriented Bears.
“I know it’s a franchise that’s got a lot of history,” Bostic said. “They’re trying to get back to what the path was made before.”
There’s pressure in that, and Bostic and Greene may never reach those high expectations.
But there’s no denying their excitement.
“I know what I’ve seen and also about back in the day [when] guys like [Dick] Butkus and [Mike] Singletary were the terrors of Chi-Town,” Greene said. “If you want to be a young linebacker or be a veteran linebacker or go down in history as one of the greats, I don’t see a better place to be in, where you can come into a place which traditionally produces great linebackers.”