It all began with an interception in the Chicago Bears’ first preseason game of 2013 against the Carolina Panthers. Second-round draft pick Jon Bostic picked off Cam Newton and rumbled into the endzone for a 51-yard touchdown.
Immediately, the hype began to build.
Twitter and the like were buzzing with Bostic’s performance, many comparing the unproven rookie to the recently retired Brian Urlacher and assuming he would one day add to the stellar lineage of Bears linebackers; guys like Dick Butkus and Mike Singeltary.
The hype continued to grow as Bostic laid a monster hit on Chargers’ wide receiver Mike Willie in the second preseason game and was eventually fined $21,000 for lowering his head while hitting a defenseless receiver.
Fans again sang his praises throughout social media, labeling him as “Mr. Boombostic” and insisting the rookie to take over the starting middle linebacker role to start the season.
When veteran free agent acquisition D.J. Williams, who missed the majority of training camp and all of the preseason, was named the starter for Week-1 against the Bengals, fans again voiced their displeasure, clamoring to see Bostic start against Cincinnati.
But Williams played well through his first six games, notching two sacks, a forced fumble and 19 tackles. Following what the Bears called a “ruptured his left pectoralis muscle tendon” against the New York Giants last Thursday, however, Williams will miss the remainder of the season.
Bostic ended up playing 21 snaps after Williams’ injury, registering two tackles, including one tackle for loss. Lance Briggs did not downplay what Bostic means for the team moving forward, saying after Thursday’s game, “(Bostic) got in and got his nose in it. He found out that some of the stuff you see in practice or the preseason is a little bit different on the field. But Bostic is going to be big next week.”
Due to Williams’ injury, Bostic finally gets his chance to start this Sunday in Washington. Despite the interception and the big hit, Bostic struggled at times in the preseason, particularly in pass coverage, often turning his hips the wrong direction or biting too often on play action passes.
After practice on Monday, Marc Trestman said of Bostic, “He doesn’t have the experience, certainly, that D.J. has, but he has speed, and he’s an explosive young man.” While he has shown that explosiveness and the ability to be quick to the ball, he sometimes chooses the wrong gap and has to fight through even more traffic to find the ball carrier.
He will likely be taken off of the field when the team is in their nickel package, but as of Monday he was taking some reps with the first team in the nickel package just in case James Anderson’s back injury becomes a greater cause for concern.
Bostic is still raw and a work in progress at this time, and no matter how much time he played in the preseason and how much film he has studied, there is no way of knowing how he will perform until he makes his way out on to the field on Sunday afternoon.
He was touted as the future at the middle linebacker position the day he was drafted and ready or not, this Sunday, the future is now.
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