When Tim Tebow came into the NFL, even as a first-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos, he had elite college credentials, but in the end turned out to be not good enough as a passer to make it as an NFL quarterback and not good enough as a runner to get real consideration as a running back.
So it is in some respects for Jordan Lynch, a finalist in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting but then going undrafted and required to undertake a position change with the Bears, from quarterback to running back in hopes of earning an NFL helmet. His last live-action chance to make a statement for the Bears and the rest of the NFL will come in Cleveland tonight with coaches planning to use him in the backfield.
“Like the coaches said, you’re not only auditioning for this team, you’re auditioning for 31 other teams,” Lynch said. “Just gotta get some tape on me. The more you can do, the better. And you’ll never know what happens.”
[MORE BEARS: Nowhere else RB Jordan Lynch would rather be than Bears]
And sometimes things do happen. Fullback Tyler Clutts was struggling for a spot on the 2011 Cleveland Browns when in the fourth preseason game, against the Bears, he made such an impression on special teams that the Bears eventually signed him off Cleveland’s practice squad to be Matt Forte’s lead blocker.
Not many teams have a backup running back who amassed more than 6,000 passing yards in college. The Bears won’t on their 53-man roster, not this year at least, but Lynch will have the opportunity – his final opportunity – on Thursday against the Browns to make a case for himself either on the Bears’ or some other team’s practice squad. From there…?
“I expect you'll see quite a bit of him [against Cleveland],” said coach Marc Trestman. “I'm sure he'll have an opportunity to carry the football, to do a little bit of what he did a couple of games ago when he got a couple of reps and did very well running the football.
“So it'll be a good opportunity for him to get out there and show what he's learned and how he's improved over the last month of playing a completely new position. That'll involve pass protection as well, you know this is a team that brings the blitz, so he'll have an opportunity to get in the pass protection as well, and catch some balls outside the pocket and stuff like that. I'm excited for him and his opportunity.”
Those opportunities can be scarce. Lynch has not played since carrying seven times for 24 yards in the preseason opener vs. Philadelphia. The problem for him is that teams do not hit in practice, making the games the only chance to make a deep impression in an area like special teams, which are all about hitting.
“I go out there and we don't really hit in practice,” Lynch said. “There's some thudding going on and you can kind of tell and get a judgment of that and I'm always out there, high-effort guy, always going out there full speed and I think they know what they have in me.”