The surprise next Sunday should not be if rookie linebacker Jonathan Bostic plays well; it should be if he doesn’t.
Bostic was the Bears’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft. Teams use second-round picks on players expected to play sooner, not later. The Bears traded up to get Alshon Jeffery and Stephen Paea in the last two drafts for a reason, not to simply add depth.
Bostic was not drafted to be a backup or special-teams fixture. He was drafted for this moment.
Recent No. 2’s have been successes early for the Bears:
|2012||Alshon Jeffery||Starting WR, Game 3|
|2011||Stephen Paea||Starting NT 2012 Game 2 after rookie injuries|
|2008||Matt Forte||Day 1 starting RB|
|2006||Devin Hester||Day 1 return legend|
|2003||Charles Tillman||Day 1 starting CB|
|2001||Anthony Thomas||Day 1 starting RB|
|2000||Mike Brown||Day 1 starting FS|
|1998||Tony Parrish||Day 1 starting SS|
Bostic has already been a “starter”
Indeed, Bostic is actually behind the curve for quite a few Bears’ No. 2’s in their rookie seasons, although he is moving into the starting lineup, albeit because of injury, at the same game-seven point that Mike Singletary did in 1981.
Bostic, consigned exclusively to special teams after starting every preseason game because of D.J. Williams’ calf injury in training camp, is convinced he is ready to start. In one respect, he already has been a “starter.”
“Every week I’m preparing like I’m the starter, anyway,” Bostic said. “It’s just really the fact of how it kind of happened. You always hear ‘next man up,’ ‘anything can happen,’ but the situation that happened like that, it’s kind of like, man, these things really do happen. I wasn’t too surprised about it.”
Bostic was pressed into service in the third quarter of last Thursday’s Bears win over the New York Giants when Williams had to leave the game. Bostic played 21 total snaps and was credited with two tackles, one for loss.
He struggled at times against the pass during preseason, critical because of the role of the middle linebacker in coverage. But his pass defense improved and it was his run defense against Brandon Jacobs and the Giants that graded out poorly, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
“He hasn’t spent a lot of time out there but he has played,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He’s in the next-man-up situation, he doesn’t have the experience certainly that D.J. has, but he has speed and he’s an explosive young man. It’s just about working together with the guys and getting acclimated to the calls and the fits and things like that.
“I think we’ll do fine.”
Bostic is no afflicted by false bravado.
“Now I’ve got to kind of step up now,” Bostic said. “I don’t want any dropoffs to me from D.J. to me. Really just got to go out there and just prepare the best I can and go out there and do my best.”