For the better part of 20 minutes, media members waited patiently in Bourbonnais on Friday as Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman chatted with former team safety turned defensive quality control assistant Chris Harris. Trestman approached the circle of gathered cameras, microphones and recorders and politely apologized for the lengthy wait.
In the background, several young players took advantage of a mistaken weather forecast and got in some extra work. Among them was fan favorite, Jordan Lynch.
I've covered Lynch for nearly three years now, doing a feature on him for Chicago Side Sports two years ago and churning out a pair of stories for Fansided and Saturday Blitz. Now, as a veteran camp reporter, I'm getting to see an entirely different side of Jordan Lynch, the football player.
Lynch was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season for the Northern Illinois Huskies as a quarterback. Now, he's an undrafted free agent running back for the Chicago Bears.
Like many elite players, Lynch is getting a chance to don the shield and realize a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. However, unlike Johnny Manziel, who Lynch stood next to in New York City last winter, Lynch is having to learn an entirely new position to do it.
"The only way I'm going to make this team is hard work and effort," Lynch said after getting the extra reps following Friday's practice. "I've already accepted my role. It's going be special teams — I mean, I'd like to fit in there at running back, but that's probably down the road."
After getting the extra reps, focusing on footwork and some of the nuances of the running back position, Lynch spent an additional 10-15 minutes signing autographs for lingering fans. They've already taken to the Chicago native, despite the fact that a roster spot appears to be a longshot at best.
Yet, as Lynch waits patiently for reps on the practice field, he's been diligent off the field, constantly preparing mentally to take advantage of whatever chances he's given. He's using his time as a quarterback to not just help him learn the running back position, but to learn all the nuances of Marc Trestman's system.
"The tendencies and the techniques are definitely the biggest things," Lynch said when asked about the learning curve involved with a new position. "I'm a quarterback, so I've always focused on the whole concept of the play, so that's definitely helped me when it comes to protections and everything."
And that's one area where Lynch may actually have a leg up on the competition. Most cite pass protection as the most difficult part of transitioning from college running back to professional running back, yet Lynch seems comfortable making adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Lynch's best shot to earn traction with this staff and earn a spot on the roster, or even the practice squad, will be as a personal protector on a special teams unit. Whether or not the Bears are willing to invest the time and money to see him develop as a back likely depends on his production in that facet of the game, and the limited reps he'll see over the course of the next two weeks in Bourbonnais and in preseason games will be critical.
"Every rep means everything to me and I know that," Lynch said. "I've got to go out there and just bust my tail."
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