The defense went into this offseason with five “starters” and their coach (Jon Hoke) in place even with a change in head coach and defensive coordinator. When Kelvin Hayden suffered a season-ending hamstring injury, the nickel back job became open. It still is.
Whether the solution is in the person of Isaiah Frey or a shift of Tim Jennings inside to nickel and Sherrick McManis to corner on the outside, the Raiders’ three-receiver packages can help the Bears decide.
Ostensibly it is Frey’s job to lose and he hasn’t.
“He’s done a nice job so far. He really has,” said coordinator Mel Tucker. “He’s competing well. Isaiah, he’s making quick decisions. He’s playing with confidence, and seems like he’s getting better on a daily basis. That’s what you like to see out of young players.”
The depth chart after the starters also is hardening in place. At cornerback, Frey is all but assured of a spot on the 53-man roster, and McManis collected 10 special-teams tackles in 12 games last season. Both are 6-foot corners, the kind of size that gives secondaries matchup capabilities.
Craig Steltz and Anthony Walters have experience and proven abilities on special teams. After that, a roster decision could come down to safety Brandon Hardin or cornerback Demontre Hurst, unless the Bears opt to keep 10 defensive backs.