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Bears CB Isaiah Frey could go from practice squad to prime time

Chicago Bears Minicamp

Chicago Bears Minicamp

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Updated: August 4, 2013 10:45PM

Isaiah Frey came back leaner, quicker and faster. And you can see the difference.

The second-year cornerback from Nevada has made an impact from the start of Bears training camp with interceptions, batted passes and assorted noticeable plays.

Now he’s likely to get a chance to prove it’s for real. With veteran Kelvin Hayden week-to-week with a strained left hamstring, Frey inherits Hayden’s nickel back role.

A sixth-round draft pick in 2012, Frey was on the practice squad last season. He said he’s ready for the challenge of a bigger role.

‘‘I feel like I’m more comfortable in the defense and able to read my keys and get my drops and make more plays this year,’’ he said.

When the new coaching staff took over, Frey was instructed to come to camp in better shape.

‘‘The Bears wanted me to lose some body fat — that was my main focus in the offseason,’’ he said. ‘‘I got on a diet plan back home. They gave me some healthy foods when I got back there.

‘‘I think that’s helped me with my movement skills. I’m moving a lot quicker laterally. I’m a little bit more flexible. I’ve got another gear in my speed, so that’s helping out a lot.’’

Experience also is a factor. Although he was on the practice squad, Frey had the advantage of playing behind productive veterans — Pro Bowl cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, Hayden and nickel back D.J. Moore. Frey said he made the most of the experience.

‘‘It was good for me last year to sit back and watch the vets. I think it helped a lot,’’ he said. ‘‘I learned their preparation. Those guys are probably the hardest-working corners in the league — Tim, Peanut and Kelvin. They study nonstop. They’d be well-prepared for the game, and that’s why they were able to make plays on Sunday.

‘‘They all took me under their wing and helped me with anything. If I would do something in practice, they’d tell me how to do it and things like that. They took the time to help me.’’

The difference is noticeable. But now Frey has to take a big step while Hayden is out.

‘‘He’s having a very competitive camp,’’ coach Marc Trestman said. ‘‘He’s been very consistent throughout. He’s continually playing at a high level, making plays, knocking passes down, creating opportunities for himself.

‘‘He’s in a terrific competition with other guys on this team. He’s shown himself every day. He’s done a lot of good things.’’

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