By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Should the early trend of this NFL season continue for the next decade to come, Bears safety Deon Bush can only hope he doesn’t become an answer to a trivia question.
The Bears will soon find themselves in search for their next franchise quarterback. They had done extensive research on Dak Prescott but passed with three picks in the fourth round. Instead, general manager Ryan Pace put his faith in linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, defensive back Deiondre’ Hall and Bush, the latter of whom has yet to be active for a game.
Prescott looks like the real deal in Dallas. He has yet to throw an interception and the Cowboys are 4-1, with one victory coming over the Bears. Many teams may regret passing on Prescott when it’s all said and done. If a player like Bush develops into the kind of player Pace projected, the Bears will be pleased.
“Good athlete, also a very physical player,” Pace said in April. “Like the fact that he throws his body around just plays with toughness, plays with instincts and plays fast on the field. So, another guy we were fired up about to get.”
Five games into the season, Bush hasn’t suited up for a game. Even with their safety position in flux, the Bears haven’t seen Bush as capable of playing just yet. During the preseason, Bush played in two games, then suffered a hamstring injury. He’s been playing catch-up since.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio hasn’t been nearly as fired up about Bush as the Pace once was.
“He’s still not where he needs to be mentally, but he’s working very hard at it,” Fangio said Wednesday.
What does Fangio mean? Bush isn’t figuring it out just yet.
Fangio’s defense is complex, and safeties are asked a lot with their roles. Bush has to understand the formations, checks and calls. As a safety, one mistake can cost the game. Fangio doesn’t trust him yet.
“Coach has been coaching for a long time,” Bush said of Fangio. “He knows what it takes. I’m going to keep learning, keep getting coached and try to be the best player that I can be.”
Bush was a standout at Miami, earning third-team All-ACC honors his senior season with 50 tackles and an interception. His natural athleticism constantly flashed, catching the eyes of NFL scouts.
Now with the Bears, Bush has watched as fellow rookies Leonard Floyd and Cody Whitehair start and Jonathan Bullard, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Kwiatkoski and Hall assume roles. Bush hasn’t gotten his chance.
Time will tell if the Bears regret passing on Prescott or whether Bush becomes what Pace believed. First, he must prove worthy of suiting up on Sundays.
“I’m a competitor,” Bush said. “I definitely want to be on the field with my team and trying to help the team in the best way possible. I just got to continue to take it one day at a time and be ready for when my name is called.”