Veteran defensive end Julius Peppers smiled at the thought of what he might tell Jonathan Bostic as the rookie prepares to start his first game as an NFL middle linebacker.
“I don’t think I’ll tell him much of anything,” Peppers said. “What worked for me won’t necessarily work for somebody else, and everyone has to find their own place.
“Besides, he’s got a lot of ability or he wouldn’t be here.”
Bostic will have his own challenges moving, literally, into the middle of a veteran defense with Peppers, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman around him.
Briggs started as a rookie, albeit at the strong-side spot, in his fourth NFL game after playing as a reserve in the first three. Bostic had played exclusively on special teams before last Thursday when he had to replace D.J. Williams when the latter suffered a season-ending chest injury.
“But Jon is further along than I was as a rookie,” Briggs said. “He understands things. He understands all our concepts. For him, he's going to have to get game experience. There are things that he's still learning how to trust.”
Indeed, that may be the crucial tipping point for the rookie: Believe what Briggs or others tell him.
“If I give him a tipoff, it's just like me when I was young and Brian might give me a tipoff and I might be a step late because I didn't really trust what he was saying but what he said was right.”