For the first time since Brian Urlacher first took the field for the Chicago Bears in 2000, there is no clear cut starter at middle linebacker for the Bears. With off season OTAs well under way, the Bears are now charged with filling their remaining starting roles on the defensive side of the ball, and Jon Bostic is forcing the team to look his way.
Bostic was expected to compete mainly with Shea McClellin for the starting strong side linebacker position, though he has stated that the team was working him in all three linebacker positions. From all accounts McClellin is taking well to his position change and is largely expected to win the battle at strong side, which leaves Bostic and veteran D.J. Williams fighting over the right to rule the middle of the field.
With Williams coming off of a torn pectoral muscle suffered last season, Bostic has been able to shine during the team’s non-contact drills so far this offseason. After being thrust into the starting lineup in 2013 because of various injuries, Bostic’s play was largely unimpressive, though there were a few bright spots. Now with a full offseason as an NFL player under his belt, Bostic heads into his second season with a lot to prove. That chip on his shoulder mentality will be the spark that will set him apart from Williams, who is entering his 11th NFL season and might be running out of gas.
Now, this battle is far from being over, and we will definitely find out more when the team actually begins contact drills. One of the biggest knocks on Bostic was his inability to sheds blocks, something that is very important for a middle linebacker to do well. If Bostic can prove that he can reliably get off blocks, then he should start over Williams, who will turn 32 this season and does not cover ground as well as he used to.
This position battle will be very intriguing to watch over the next few months leading up to Week 1.