If there is one mild worry about the $21,000 fine levied against linebacker Jonathan Bostic for his hit on San Diego wide receiver Mike Willie, it might be that the rookie could become tentative in a game and position where tentative cannot be.
“Guys and coaches will talk to him and say, ‘You’ve just got to keep on playing,’” said safety Chris Conte. “He can’t change the way he’s playing. He’s playing great, so keep it up.”
Indeed, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and his staff have been of one mantra with Bostic and fellow rookie Khaseem Greene: Play fast, don’t worry about mistakes, and we’ll clean those up afterwards.
It has worked, with Bostic and Greene making every bit of their rookie quotas of mistakes. But they also have been the playmakers the organization envisioned when making them two of Bears picks in the 2013 draft.
The Bostic hit on Willie was remarkable in part because of Bostic’s closing speed from the middle to a receiver not in his immediate area.
Bostic, all but a lock to be the Opening-Day starter at middle linebacker with D.J. Williams still more than a week away from even returning to practice off a severe calf injury, is showing zero indications of slowing down.
Expect him to continue making his hits full speed and the NFL will tell him later on if he did it wrong.
“I’ve just got to go out there, play football and have fun,” Bostic said. “That’s the main thing. That’s what I’m here for. I play football to have fun.”
Veterans James Anderson and Lance Briggs are flanking Bostic and working as the nickel linebackers. The key is Bostic’s continuing development, with a second spotlight on Greene as Briggs’ backup.
“You have to continue to play football the best way you know how,” Briggs said, “and that’s what [Bostic] was doing.”