Safety Adrian Amos garners first-rookie-starter honors for Bears


Safety Adrian Amos garners first-rookie-starter honors for Bears

The hope every year is that rookies can come in and help immediately. That was certainly the now-frustrated hope for wide receiver Kevin White, but in the meantime, the honor of first-rookie-starter will go to the fifth-round safety out of Penn State.

Positions are far, far from set, but Adrian Amos becomes the first member of the 2015 draft class to crack the starting lineup based on the latest depth chart, promoted to starting safety paired with veteran Antrel Rolle while Brock Vereen, who started vs. the Miami Dolphins, moves back one step in the lineups. Amos also gets the start over veteran Ryan Mundy, who has been given look with the No. 1’s, started all 16 games last season, but is working more behind Rolle as a strong safety.

Amos and Vereen each were credited with 2 solo tackles in the initial stat report, though Amos played 27 snaps to Vereen's 17. But Vereen had a costly recognition breakdown on the Miami touchdown at the end of the Dolphins’ first drive, and Amos has been solid through the past handful of practices after acquitting himself well in the game.

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The last time a rookie started at safety Week 1 for the Bears was 2009 (Al Afalava).

“I like the scheme. At Penn State I had four different schemes, so it’s a little bit of each one I can bring into this,” Amos said. “The defenses match up for what we did at Penn State… . I’m learning more and more about the safety position, and I’m getting better every single day playing safety.”

Given that last year was Amos’ first ever playing at safety, “upside” seems an appropriate descriptor.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”