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Bears might have found gem in Bass

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 4:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 4:59 p.m. CDT
(Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Bears defensive end David Bass stretches during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Bears may have found gem in David Bass

By KEVIN FISHBAIN — kfishbain@shawmedia.com

You can’t blame David Bass for planning a rookie season in Silver and Black. The Raiders cut him after the preseason, but told him to return the next day at 10 a.m. to sign his practice squad contract.

Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie wasn’t the only one who saw the potential in Bass, who had 12 tackles and a sack in the preseason. Phil Emery took notice, possibly when the Bears traveled to Oakland for Week 3 in the preseason. He kept Bass from getting to the Raiders’ practice squad, claiming him to the Bears’ 53-man roster.

“David has got a little more size than Cheta (Ozougwu). He’s a better point-of-attack player in our eyes,” Emery said Sept. 2. “We feel like he has a better opportunity to be a more all-around player, run and pass, and that again goes along with our roster philosophy."

Fast forward to Week 6 of the regular season. With injuries depleting the Bears’ defensive line, Corey Wootton had to move to three-technique, making Bass the No. 3 defensive end. He made two tackles in the win over the New York Giants, stopping Brandon Jacobs for gains of one yard and no gain on a night the Bears failed several times to bring down the Giants' back.

Quite the leap for a seventh-round pick from a Division II school, especially considering Bass was no more than 208 pounds coming out of high school.

“When he came on his official visit, he was a great looking athlete, but he was as skinny as a rail,” said Wes Bell, Bass’ defensive line coach at Missouri Western. “As soon as I saw him, I said this kid is going to be a 270-pound stud athlete. … If he does the right things, he’ll be special.”

Bass had 6½ sacks as a freshman, then eight in 2010. He led the conference with 14½ sacks in 2011 and had 11½ as a senior.

He started getting attention from NFL scouts after his All-American junior year, and once he realized his dream of making the NFL, and then the Bears’ final roster, Bass still had plenty to prove. He knew the Bears took a chance.

“It was a great feeling, but I knew I had to come in here and work even harder. They had 90 guys in camp just like [Oakland] did. They had to make their cuts,” Bass said. “They hadn’t seen me on a day-to-day basis, that’s a big risk involved, so I had to go out every day and make them feel they made the right choice by bringing me in.”

Bass is focused on defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s mantra of “do your job," as he continues to see more action. He played 13 snaps in his debut against New Orleans after being inactive for the first four weeks, then 29 against the Giants.

“I just want to read my keys and make the plays I’m supposed to make,” Bass said. “I’m not going to say I want to go out there and have the game of my life, we need to play our positions and trust the guys around us.”

The way the season has gone health-wise on the defensive line, and the fact the Bears are desperate for a pass rush, we should see more of Bass, allowing fans and the organization to know more about the player the Raiders let slip through their fingers.

And when hearing the way Bell describes his former pupil Bass as a player, and a man, Emery can be fortunate to have made the move.

“Off the field, he was probably one of the best kids I’ve ever been around,” Bell said. “I told some scouts during the whole process, I’ve got two sons, a 9-year old and a 5-year old. If I can raise my boys and they turn out like David Bass, then I’m a successful father.”

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