BOURBONNAIS — The ability to force turnovers is critical for a defense, and frankly, it was an area where the Bears failed to capitalize last season. So when Khaseem Greene came away with an Eagles fumble in the third quarter of the first preseason game, it was an encouraging sign for the second-year linebacker.
Linebackers are expected to be able to make those plays and Greene came through. However, it was the spin move that followed the recovery that caught people off guard. Greene shed an Eagles defender with a spin to gain an extra 15 yards, giving the Bears the ball at the Philadelphia 10-yard line.
“It’s something that came natural,” Greene said, smiling. “My brother Ray [Graham] is a pretty good running back so I copy one of his moves every now and again.”
Greene spent time with the first-team nickel defense Monday as Lance Briggs sat out practice. The reps were helpful for a player trying to take a noticeable step in 2014. The 25-year-old already lost weight at the start of the offseason and is now trying to hone his vision on the field.
“The game has slowed down a lot for me this year,” Greene said. “I’m seeing stuff quicker and just be able to use my natural instincts to react. It’s fun now. There’s no overthinking or anything like that.”
In his rookie season, Greene, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Rutgers, struggled to get a hold of the pace of the NFL. He was thrust into the spotlight after Briggs missed seven games with a shoulder injury, starting in four of those seven games.
Greene said that his veteran teammates told him that the game would slow once he started to experience how to plan for opponents and as he aged.
In the first preseason game, Greene had two tackles on top of his fumble recovery. He said he noticed a lot of mistakes when looking at the game on film.
“There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be corrected,” he said. “But the important thing is we got to be out there playing in full speed. We got turnovers and were having fun. It was good to be back out there and be live.
“I’ve got to play better on my hands. I’ve got to try and get in on more tackles.”
As Greene progresses throughout camp, linebackers coach Reggie Herring has noticed Greene’s commitment on trying to become a better player.
“He’s maturing every day as a person,” Herring said. “He’s really having a consistent camp. It’s exciting and it gives you hope to see him grow each day. If he continues on track where he is right now, he has a chance to help us this year and provide some really good depth.”
Greene said he wants to help the team in any way he can, which also involves playing on special teams. Greene added that it’s important as a backup to be able to contribute there as well.
Regardless, he’ll be ready if his number is called.
“You’ve got to put it on film, every single play and every single down,” Greene said. “You don’t want to have a fall-off from the first guy to the second guy so it’s just been a transition for me.”