By Jeff Joniak–
(CBS) The Bears (1-3) are on the road to face the Colts (1-3) on Sunday in Indianapolis. Here are my observations leading into the game.
At the moment, the Bears have 11 defensive backs on the active roster. Eight of them have just more than a year of experience in the NFL. Six of them played in the second half of last week’s win over the Lions. Defensive coordinators and veteran quarterbacks are likely looking at that depth chart and thinking they can work over that group pretty good. The Lions failed to do that last week. It’s a hungry, aggressive group that’s getting a unique opportunity to make a first impression.
The newest defensive back is Cre’von LeBlanc, whom the Bears claimed on waivers from the Patriots. I’ve said this before: The joint practices with the Patriots in August confirmed what the Bears thought of LeBlanc’s talents. His ability to handle the inside in the nickel package allowed Bryce Callahan to begin taking snaps outside, where coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio believe they have a good football player.
LeBlanc will be part of Sunday’s Joniak’s Journal in the WBBM Radio “Countdown to Kickoff” during the second hour of the pregame show before the Bears meet the Colts in Indianapolis. He said the young defensive backs are seeing the game through each other’s eyes and building confidence because of it.
“We are just growing and growing each and every day,” LeBlanc said. “Everybody on the back end has that heart and that desire and that will to try to dominate the opponent.”
That’s the intangible Fox talks about it all the time. Evaluating talent is one skill, evaluating the heart of a player is another. The Bears feel they have some young defensive backs, LeBlanc included, with the competitiveness and the toughness to build on.
This Bears team is so star-starved that rookie running back Jordan Howard is instantly a big name this week in the NFL. Just flipping through some of the football-themed television programs, you can see that Howard’s been shoved into the spotlight after 111 yards against the Lions. As someone framed it for me, Howard is a drink of fresh water for someone dying of thirst. Howard certainly has all the tools to be a very good back.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.