While Jon Bostic is in the mix for both the strong side and middle linebacker position, the battle for MLB between D.J. Williams (who will be 32 when the season starts) and second-year man Bostic looks to be more intense than previously thought.
Williams was signed two days after Brian Urlacher was notified by the Chicago Bears they would be going in a different direction, so you would think the decision to sign Williams would mean he is the no-doubt number one MLB. Not so fast, as Bostic looks to challenge what was previously thought as a sure thing. Bostic and Williams have been splitting time at first-team middle linebacker during OTAs, and multiple reports suggest Bostic has made a strong impression even in non-contact drills.
Bostic could provide jolt in LB corps Chicago Bears need
The second-year man out of Florida made some great plays in the preseason last year, including this hit on San Diego Chargers wideout Mike Willie. He could not bring that same intensity to the regular season when he first took over for Williams who suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in early October, however he accumulated 57 tackles (45 solo), two sacks and one interception along with one fumble recovery, which are pretty good numbers for a rookie when you consider the circumstances he faced.
While having a veteran out there in Williams would be beneficial, he will turn 32 next month and, with Lance Briggs at 33 years old, it is time for an infusion of youth into a linebacking corps that did little to nothing to help an overall defensive unit that was dead last against the run in 2013. Meanwhile, on the strong-side, Trestman has been praising Shea McClellin and seems to like him a lot in the Sam linebacker slot, so it would be a win for GM Phil Emery if his number one and number two pick from his first two drafts were to start Week One. Bostic would provide speed and agility, two things the aging Briggs and Williams have struggled to bring to the table.
Durability would be another reason Bostic is a better fit at the Mike linebacker spot than Williams; his age does not lend himself to playing a full season at a high level. Linebacker coach Reggie Herring and the other defensive coaches have talked about speed as a big part of what they want to do defensively, and we have seen Bostic fly around and have the necessary wheels to quickly get to where he needs to be. Also, the linebacker has caught the eye of Herring, so look for a strong relationship to develop during training camp in July.
The next couple months will reveal a lot about this Bears team. Position battles, first impressions at a new position, and how players act and react when the pads are on will all be key in shaping a roster that will compete for a Super Bowl in 2014. No matter who wins what battle, expect this team to come out stronger and meaner when the season starts in August.