Play on special teams bolsters odds of J.T. Thomas
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 17, 2013 10:26PM
JACKSONVILLE, FL - MAY 05: Quarterback Jordan Palmer #5 during Jacksonville Jaguars Minicamp at EverBank Field on May 5, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:17AM
J.T. Thomas still thinks like a linebacker, but with rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene around, he knows his best shot at making the Bears roster is on special teams.
Thomas, a sixth-round draft pick from West Virginia in 2011, is feeling pretty good about his chances after making two big plays in the Bears’ 33-28 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday. He made a nice inside move to block a punt and recover it at the Chargers’ 20-yard line in the fourth quarter. Earlier he tackled kick returner Richard Goodman at the Chargers’ 14.
‘‘It’s satisfying to be consistent on special teams,’’ said Thomas, who played all 16 games on special teams last season. ‘‘I understand my role on this team, on this defense and the way that I’m going to have to contribute. Special teams is my main focus.’’
Thomas is behind James Anderson and Blake Costanzo at strong-side linebacker. But the drafting of Bostic and Greene also make it tougher for him to find a spot on defense.
‘‘It’s all good competition,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘You can take it like, ‘Oh man, they’re [taking my spot].’ Or you can take it like, ‘Hey, this is going to be a competitive team this year. We’re going to have a really good linebacker unit.’ That’s how I’m taking it.’’
Palmer, Foster in
With third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard out indefinitely with a fractured knuckle on his left (non-throwing) hand, the Bears signed quarterback Jordan Palmer. Palmer, a sixth-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 2007, has played in four games in three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals (2008-10).
The Bears also signed defensive tackle Eric Foster, who played in 49 games, with 19 starts, for the Indianapolis Colts from 2008-11. The Bears cut defensive end Jamaal Anderson and linebacker Andrew Starks to make room for Palmer and Foster.
Peanut: Still work to do
With an interception and three sacks of Philip Rivers on Thursday night, the Bears defense looks like it will pick up where it left off last season. But, as usual, it’s never quite good enough.
‘‘We’re still getting the turnovers, but there were some tackling issues,’’ cornerback Charles Tillman said. ‘‘A couple of guys didn’t line up. Little things, but they’re correctable. This was a good game for us get out the mistakes. But I do like what I see with our defense.’’
The long shot
Backup center Taylor Boggs came to camp as a long shot to make the roster but has made an impact in practices and in the first two preseason games. Boggs spent the 2011 season with the Jets on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
‘‘I’m not going to be stepping on anyone’s toes. But I’m not here just to get sent home,’’ said Boggs, a Division II first-team All-American at Humboldt State in 2011.