By Chris Emma–
(CBS) A brief stay in Jacksonville has brought cornerback Prince Amukamara enough motivation for the rest of his career. He was just there for one season in a Jaguars uniform, signed to a one-year deal and let into free agency after 14 unsatisfying games and zero interceptions.
Amukamara has that fresh on his mind after arriving in Chicago on another one-year deal, this one with the Bears.
“I don’t want to start bouncing around teams,” Amukamara said during mini-camp. “I want to find a home somewhere soon, what I did in New York. I’m trying to give this team everything I’ve got.
“Every one-year deal is a prove-it deal for the player. That’s just my mindset this year.”
Now 28, Amukamara knows the clock is ticking to find stability in his career. He played five seasons with the Giants after being made a first-round pick in 2011. His six NFL seasons to this point have been largely incomplete, with just seven interceptions in that span.
Amukamara posted three interceptions in eight games during the 2014 season. He has four seasons with just one interception and posted none in 2016.
The Bears missed out on their top free-agent targets at cornerback, with A.J. Bouye going to Jacksonville and replacing Amukamara. And Stephon Gilmore signed with the Patriots instead of the Bears. So general manager Ryan Pace then moved to Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in looking for upgrades at a position of dire need.
Struggles in the Bears secondary came in part because replacement-level players were thrust into key roles against the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Though a player like Amukamara remains an unproven commodity, there’s potential in place too.
“He’s got a great skill set,” Bears coach John Fox said. “He’s been a little bit inconsistent in his career production with interceptions, and we’re trying to get that back.”
During OTAs and minicamp, Amukamara was flying all over the field. He was making life difficult for a reshuffled offense with many moving parts. Amukamara felt it was one the best camps of his career, and he seemed to have a way to the ball during the offseason program. That’s something the Bears desire on their defense, a unit that registered only 11 takeaways last season.
Amukamara has even gone as far as teaching himself the patented “Peanut Punch,” which Charles Tillman made famous during his time at cornerback with the Bears defense.
Whatever it takes to keep his career steady.
“Making plays on the field is definitely a huge deciding factor to whether you stay or go,” Amukamara said. “That’s just my goal this year.”