Rookie linebacker Jon Bostic has no choice but to be ready
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter October 14, 2013 8:48PM
Updated: November 16, 2013 6:22AM
Before D.J. Williams left the field Thursday night — before he knew for sure he’d be lost for the season with a torn left pectoral tendon — he confided in his backup.
“He came to the sideline,” rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic said, “and he’s like, ‘Be ready. I don’t know what’s going on. Something doesn’t feel right.’ ”
Bostic might not be ready.
But given the Bears’ depleted defensive depth, he’s going to have to be.
Despite Bostic’s tantalizing preseason — when Williams was out with a right calf injury — few around the Bears view Bostic’s promotion as an immediate upgrade entering the road game Sunday against the Redskins.
Williams was ascending in the defense, coach Marc Trestman said.
And Bostic hadn’t appeared on defense all season until the first quarter Thursday; he had been limited to special teams.
“Any action helps,” Trestman said. “It’s certainly not the same as lining up in the middle and being part of the chaos that goes on up there. . . .
“He doesn’t have the experience, certainly, that D.J. has, but he has speed, and he’s an explosive young man.”
Bostic had his first two defensive tackles, one for loss, in 21 snaps against the Giants but said he still had a lot of stuff to clean up after reviewing film.
“Especially getting thrown in there kind of like that, I really wasn’t expecting it, but you’ve got to be expecting it,” said Bostic, a second-round draft pick.
“Just learning from those mistakes I made in the game and cleaning those things up and trying not to make the same mistakes twice. . . .
“It’s not one particular thing. It’s everything, you know? From my stance, alignment. It’s my first step, it’s everything.”
Considered Brian Urlacher’s long-term replacement since the day he was drafted, Bostic said he feels more ready every day.
But it’s fair to wonder how if he hasn’t played regularly in games?
“Watching,” he said. “You can learn a lot by watching.”
Bostic said Williams tutored him during the preseason, in which he finished second on the team with 11 tackles and returned an interception 51 yards for a score, and weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs leads by example.
“Some things [Briggs] teaches me, he doesn’t even know he teaches me,” Bostic said. “I watch a lot of those guys. I watch them more than they think I do.
“I ask them a lot of questions, but at the same time, I watch them.”
Bostic has taken turns at strong-side linebacker in practice, though starter James Anderson said Monday his lower back was fine after leaving the game Thursday with the injury.
A skilled cover man, Anderson will stay in the nickel package — though Bostic said he, Briggs and Anderson rotated during practice.
The Bears’ base cover-2 is different than the scheme Bostic played in at Florida, where he was second-team All-SEC last season.
“We were a big man-to-man team,” he said. “Linebackers were matched up on tight ends, some slot receivers. You’re pretty much on an island.
“We were going to bring the house, and here we obviously do some things similar like that, but it’s a new scheme — how we play different things, how we play cover-2, how we play cover-3.”
The team’s extra practice prep time after the game Thursday certainly helps Bostic’s transition.
His role doesn’t feel as new as it did during the preseason — even if, until Thursday, Bostic’s only turns at middle linebacker came during practices.
“He’s been with us in the minicamps and training camp, and he had a lot of playing time in the preseason,” Trestman said.
“So having been with us and understanding what the NFL is about, six weeks will be a benefit to him.”