In every training camp around the league, a fringe roster player steps up and becomes the story of camp, even if he won't be playing a significant role in the regular season. That happens easily on teams like the Bears, with few juicy headlines or position battles, and it has shined the spotlight on cornerback Isaiah Frey, who had an interception on Monday playing as a first-team nickel.
Here's what defensive coordaintor Mel Tucker told reporters after Monday's practice about the first-year player out of Nevada:
"He’s competing well. Isaiah, he’s making quick decisions. He’s playing with confidence, and seems like he’s getting better on a daily basis. That’s what you like to see out of young players.
"I’m pulling for him because every day he comes out with a great attitude. He’s got a smile on his face. He’s not playing cautious. He’s looking to make plays. He’s doing what he’s coached to do. That’s what you’re looking for out of young players. He’s a great young man, and we’re just really excited about the progress he’s been making out here on a day-to-day basis."
Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke noticed that Frey is playing confident.
"He’s been here for a year, he understands the systems and what the position, especially at nickel, has been asked of him, but he’s been extremely productive with what he’s done, but I also think it’s a little bit of it he’s playing with confidence," Hoke said.
Frey had the opportunity last year to watch and learn from one of the league's top cornerback groupings, something he said has helped him in his development.
"I learned a lot. I learned that there’s a lot of preparation into what they do," Frey told reporters Monday. "Peanut, Tim and Kelvin, those guys work the hardest probably in the NFL and that’s why they’re able to make the plays they make on Sunday.”
Here are the other notes from Monday's practice:
First-team reps: Eben Britton remained the first-team left tackle, as Jermon Bushrod only took part in individual drills on Monday. On the defensive side of the ball, with Stephen Paea out, Nate Collins ran with the first-team D-line in the base and nickel — with Julius Peppers out, Corey Wootton bounced back outside. Collins has had a solid camp and has great battles in pass-rush drills with center Roberto Garza.
Bostic improving: Rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic received praise on a run fit he made in team drills. Tucker said Bostic is getting “better and better every day” as he takes over for the injured Williams. “I think he’s playing faster,” Tucker said. “His alignments are better, just more detailed, more precise in what he’s doing.”
Quick hits: Josh McCown connected with Terrence Toliver a couple times in practice, once for an impressive back-shoulder touchdown. … Shea McClellin blew up a reverse play in the backfield and had another nice spin move around J’Marcus Webb in pass rush drills. ... It wasn't much of a skirmish, but defensive end Kyle Moore and offensive tackle Jordan Mills got into it during some team drills. ... A reserve defensive lineman to watch going forward in preseason games: undrafted rookie Zach Minter. Minter has shown impressive speed and strength for his size (6-1, 297 pounds) and had a would-be sack when the second-team offense was in the two-minute drill.