Bears guard James Brown impressing new coaches
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2013 9:09PM
Bears offensive Guard, #78 James Brown runs onto the field during open practice at Bear Family Fest, Soldier Field, August 3, 2012.. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times
Updated: June 13, 2013 9:58PM
It took a string of injuries and a player to leave to set things in motion for Bears guard James Brown last season. But there has been little to slow his rise since.
“James has ascended during camp, and I’ve talked to [offensive coordinator/offensive line coach] Aaron [Kromer] and [assistant offensive line coach] Pat [Meyer] about that almost each and every day,” coach Marc Trestman said after the final day of minicamp Thursday. “He’s locked in, and he’s grown as a player.”
Gabe Carimi, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2011, likely still would be with the Bears if that weren’t the case. The Bears are that pleased with Brown’s development and potential.
“Things are going well,” Brown said. “It’s been a great ride. I just hope we keep going higher and higher.”
The Bears’ new staff saw potential in Carimi as a guard, but Brown had surpassed him on the depth chart. The signing of Matt Slauson and the selections of Kyle Long and Jordan Mills in the draft quickly made Carimi expendable. So the Bears chose to create salary-cap space (which was used to sign defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis) by trading Carimi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brown went undrafted out of Troy, joined the Bears’ practice squad, was signed to the 53-man roster in November after Chilo Rachal abruptly left the team, played most of the second half against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 9 and made his first start a week later against the Green Bay Packers.
Injuries played a role, but the Bears stuck with Brown at left guard for the final two games last season. Now he has impressed a completely different coaching staff.
“One thing I’ve been working deeply on is my technique,” Brown said. “That’s one thing that’s been hindering me since I’ve been here. It’s one thing I’ve been working on a lot. You can never feel content. You just have to keep working harder and harder.”
In minicamp, Brown was at right guard and Slauson at left guard on the first team. Though Long should push both for playing time in training camp, the Bears have a level of satisfaction and comfort with Brown and Slauson.
“They’ve progressed each and every day,” Trestman said. “Matt has been solid. He’s played a lot of football in this league. He’s solid mentally with the offense. This guy is a great communicator on the field. He’s a quiet communicator, but he’s in the right place and we feel very good about that.”
Trestman said Brown, in particular, has responded to the quality of competition he’s facing.
“He’s got to face a heck of a defensive line every day and our defensive tackles, and that’s enabled him to get better,” Trestman said. “It’s everything he can handle each and every day. It brings out the best, and we’re getting better because of it.”