By Chris Emma-
BOURBONNAIS (CBS) — In drafting Kyle Fuller, the Bears hoped to have found a playmaking cornerback for this season and future cornerstone of the rebuilding defense.
In Fuller’s first training camp practice, he looked every bit the part.
There was little time wasted for Fuller, as he picked off the first pass that came his way Friday and returned it to the end zone. The thousands of fans gathered at Olivet Nazarene unleased a raucous cheer when the first-round pick scampered away with the football. His new teammates and coaches were thrilled, too.
“It was a good start for Kyle,” Bears coach Marc Trestma said. “That was a terrific play he made in the first series of the game.”
That wasn’t enough for Fuller, who later made an acrobatic interception along the sidelines, pulling the ball away from receiver Chris Williams.
Fuller set the expectations high for himself on day one of practice, and he certainly lived up to them. The cornerback used his first practice to prove his place amongst his new teammates. There was no chance he’d allow failure on this next level.
“I’m pretty sure everybody comes out thinking that,” Fuller said. “If you don’t think it, you’re not going to do it. It’s definitely what we’re trying to do.”
But managing expectations can be troubling for a rookie. It’s something Shea McClellin, now in his third years with the Bears, remembered struggling with during his first training camp.
Avoiding the pressure can be daunting to a player with no experience on such a stage.
“My first training camp wasn’t great,” McClellin said. “I definitely felt pressed and felt a lot of pressure but, as you go on, all you can do is the best you can do.”
If Fuller is pressing, it sure didn’t show on Friday. He challenged each receiver with poise and confidence. He was relentless in pursuit of the pass. Those observing practice — fans, players and coaches alike — had great excitement for the rookie’s camp debut.
“First day of camp, comes in and gets two picks — it’s great for his confidence coming in,” McClellin said.
Added Trestman: “He’s around the football. It was a good start.”
The Bears’ secondary will feature a new look. In nickel packages, Fuller is taking a cornerback spot and Pro Bowler Tim Jennings is moving to nickelback. Plus, there will be the likely addition of two new safeties. With Fuller in the mix, the defense has great versatility.
Fuller lines up on the other side of Charles Tillman, the best cornerback in team history, and opposite playmaking receivers like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Every rep offers a chance to improve.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Fuller said. “Those guys are definitely a help, whenever I need them.”
Fuller described his game as tough, physical and instinctual. Without pads and contact in Friday’s workout, only those instincts were on display, but the Bears were nonetheless left impressed.
“I just trying to come out here every day and show the coaches what I can do—just get better,” Fuller said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.