Bostic still working at nickel and 'Mike', but not 'Sam'

H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com From left, Jonathan Bostic, Lance Briggs, and D.J. Williams during the opening day of training camp in Bourbonnais. (H. Rick Bamman)

BOURBONNAIS — Credit second-year linebacker Jon Bostic for this — he says all the right things off the field, and on the field, he’s put himself in position to be an impact player by running with the first-team nickel defense, the personnel grouping that will see the most playing time during the season.

When it comes to the Bears’ 4-3 base defense, though, Bostic sits behind D.J. Williams at the middle linebacker position, and surprisingly hasn’t had any rotations with Shea McClellin on the strong side.

“I’m doing anything they ask me,” Bostic said following Monday’s practice. “Just going out and playing football.”

There were no personnel changes on Sunday, but on Monday, Jerry Franklin replaced Shea McClellin with the second-team nickel defense next to Williams, and Lance Briggs took a veteran’s day, so Khaseem Greene played next to Bostic on the first-team nickel "D."

It had been assumed in the winter and then leading up to camp that the two young, early draft picks would compete at the ‘Sam’ linebacker spot, and it’s still early yet, but the Bears have stuck with McClellin as the starting strong-side linebacker, and Bostic as the starting nickel linebacker and second-team middle linebacker.

“They haven’t told me anything,” Bostic said about potentially taking reps at ‘Sam’. “I’m doing everything they ask me. Right now they have me at ‘Mike’, just got to make sure I can come out and keep getting better every day and keep learning from Lance, D.J. and Coach [Reggie] Herring.”

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker pointed to Bostic’s versatililty, but that he has experience and a comfort level in the middle.

“Jon’s played multiple spots and he has the ability to do that,” Tucker said. “He takes a lot of snaps at ‘Mike’ so he’s very comfortable doing that. We’ll continue to work him at different spots and see where it goes.”

When asked if Bostic can play ‘Sam,’ Tucker responded emphatically, “Absolutely he can.”

Reggie Herring said during minicamp that Bostic is one of the Bears’ better cover guys, which is why Bostic is a mainstay in the first-team nickel in practice — though Williams got the first reps there against Philadelphia — and Bostic said that all comes from his time manning up receivers at Florida.

“When we played 2-man, and we played a lot of 2-man, we made our name off that,” he said. “’Backers didn’t come off the field in 2-man. ‘Backers had to walk out and be able to cover, whether it was a slot receiver, a tight end, a running back, you’ve got to be able to cover.”

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