BOURBONNAIS – The present focus in Bourbonnais on the Bears’ strong-side linebacker position remains Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic, the starters at “SAM” in the Bears' base and nickel defenses, respectively.
The future of the position, however, could be tied to Christian Jones, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound undrafted rookie out of Florida State.
It sounds far-fetched, as Jones continues to work with the third-string defense in training camp. He also continues to flash fluid movement skills and explosive athleticism daily, whether in one-one-one drills against smaller running backs, taking on blockers in team drills or on special teams, an area in which he’ll have to prove he can make a difference right away to make the team.
Jones, a consensus mid-round pick whose stock slid leading up to the draft reportedly because of a failed drug test, has a reputation for being a fierce hitter. It’s a trait he barely has been allowed to display in a camp focused on keeping players healthy – but he knows the time to showcase his physicality is approaching.
“I’m really looking forward to the preseason,” Jones said after practice Wednesday, “especially because lot of those guys passed on me, so it’ll be a great chance to go out there and shell out a little bit.”
In the meantime, Jones continues to receive positive feedback, including linebackers coach Reggie Herring, whose presence Jones noted as one of the main reasons he chose to sign with the Bears.
“He pushes me hard; he doesn’t just let me get by on my ability,” said Jones, who in practice is focusing on playing with good leverage – “hit high to low,” he said – and properly shedding blocks.
Watching Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs and veteran D.J. Williams, “walking playbooks,” according to Jones, has helped the undrafted rookie learn to play with the fast tempo coach Marc Trestman demands in practice.
Given his rare physical gifts, and the uncertainty at linebacker for the Bears, it wouldn’t be shocking if Jones became a contributor on defense sooner than later. First and foremost, he’s focused on absorbing as much as possible and translating it onto the field.
"Just keep progressing,” he said. “It’s the NFL – there are a lot of good players out there, a lot of competition – so what matters is how you take stuff from the meeting room to the field. I’m just trying to get better and bring it out to the field.”