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Jon Bostic pushing D.J. Williams for starting MLB spot

Rookie linebacker JBostic impressed Marc Trestman with his staminFriday after playing special teams too. | AP

Rookie linebacker Jon Bostic impressed Marc Trestman with his stamina Friday after playing special teams, too. | AP

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Updated: September 12, 2013 6:54AM

If there was any doubt before, there is none anymore: Bears rookie Jon Bostic’s apprenticeship to D.J. Williams at middle linebacker has become a battle for the starting job.

Bostic, the Bears’ second-round draft pick from Florida, started at middle linebacker against the Carolina Panthers on Friday in place of Williams, who hasn’t practiced since July 31 because of a calf injury.

While Bostic probably made his share of mistakes, he also made the kind of big play that automatically earns you a better look. Bostic ­intercepted a Cam Newton pass in the first quarter and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

‘‘It’s significant that when young guys step up and make plays in the game, it’s going to help their confidence,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We’re not ready to anoint him certainly. He’s in a competition. He’s going to play a lot of football.

‘‘I was encouraged by his stamina. I don’t know how many plays he played, but he was on special teams, as well. It’s great to see the young guys have success and be able to identify with doing good things. He did that [Friday] night.’’

Bostic was in the right place at the right time for the interception. But there was a reason for that. It was more than just a stroke of good fortune.

‘‘Sometimes you can sneak around and not be seen. He made a great play,’’ linebacker James ­Anderson said. ‘‘And when they throw you the ball, you catch it. That’s what he did.’’

With Williams still week-to-week, Bostic took the first step toward challenging for the starting job. At this stage, it’s possible he could win it by the first game of the regular season.

‘‘I’m not even looking at that,’’ Bostic said. ‘‘I’ve got to get a lot better before I can even think about being the starter and running out with some of these guys that have done all these great things around here. I’ve got a lot of stuff to learn.’’

Bostic is aware of his opportunity. But he doesn’t want to get carried away. Williams still is the Bears’ starting middle linebacker.

‘‘I’m trying to take it day-by-day,’’ Bostic said. ‘‘Look at the film and just try to improve on the mistakes and get ready for practice on Sunday.’’

But should Williams be nervous?

‘‘No, D.J.’s a vet,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘They go out and put stuff on film, and the coaches make decisions. That’s the nature of the business.’’

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