Bears

First career sack was a chore for Bears rookie Jonathan Bullard

First career sack was a chore for Bears rookie Jonathan Bullard

It was a “welcome to the NFL, rookie” moment for Jonathan Bullard.

The rookie Bears defensive end managed to get through the Indianapolis Colts’ protection of Andrew Luck, and Bullard, whose pass-rush prowess at Florida was key to the Bears grabbing him in the third round, was primed for his first NFL sack.

Not so fast.

“(Teammates) were saying how hard he is to tackle, and I was holding on to one leg and he was in the pocket so he couldn’t throw it away,” Bullard said, laughing. “I knew somebody was going to have to come help me and he’d eventually fall.”

Luck did fall, Bullard got the sack, but the 29-23 loss to the Colts was not quite how Bullard had planned this moment.

“It definitely felt good to break the ice,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you feel happy about it but I mostly want the win. But I’m proud of myself for going out and producing.”

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Amid some of the Bears’ struggles on defense — 25 points allowed per game through the 1-4 start — Bullard has begun to produce. One tackle in each of the first two games, two solo stops at Dallas, then three solo tackles, two for loss and his sack, at Indianapolis.

“He’s getting there,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He played some last week. I hope to be able to play him some more. He had an injury there for the two previous games which limited his snaps but he got (16) last week roughly and hopefully he can continue to get that much and maybe more if he warrants it.”

Bullard and Leonard Floyd were high draft picks primarily as major boosts for a pass rush that showed flashes with Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young last year but not enough not enough times.

Houston is done for the season with a knee injury. McPhee is yet to play this season following offseason knee surgery. And Young, with three sacks at Indianapolis, is the lone true pass-rush threat. More is needed from Bullard, in addition to Floyd getting on and staying on the field, which he too often hasn’t.

Bullard’s role has been projected to be as a defensive end in the base 3-4.

“(Bullard is) not quite the size that those (interior) guys are,” Fangio said, referencing Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein. “He's a guy that's got a little bit more quickness. He's a guy that we hope can be in our mix and rotation and be a guy that comes and plays a fair amount in every game just filling in.”

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on ChicagoBears.com at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.