LAKE FOREST – It was pretty easy for Tim Jennings to pinpoint the biggest problem for the Bears' defense in 2013.
“You saw it last year,” the 30-year-old cornerback said. “We weren’t tough at all. We just couldn’t stop nobody.”
Accordingly, several additions have been made, particularly in the secondary. In the fourth round, Brock Vereen was taken out of Minnesota, and he already has been placed with the first team in minicamp.
But attention also will be on his current roommate, first-round pick Kyle Fuller. The former Virginia Tech cornerback isn’t one to talk himself up, so Vereen was happy to do it for him.
“He’s a quiet guy,” Vereen said, “but he’s a heck of a football player, and that’s evident.”
Most of the compliments thrown Fuller’s way have been about how quickly and how well he’s made the transition from college to the NFL. He attributed it to the “good group of guys” around him, notably Charles Tillman.
Although he has adapted quickly, it’s hard not to be a little surprised as a rookie cornerback practicing with one of the league’s best receiving corps.
“Going against a Brandon (Marshall) and an Alshon (Jeffery), big strong guys, definitely woke me up and let me know where I was at,” Fuller said.
Fuller has the mentality of a rookie. He constantly mentioned how he’s continuing to grow and that he’s got a lot to learn from defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, who he said “is big on the fundamentals.”
But although it’s early, and with training camp at Bourbonnais still several weeks away, Fuller already has the mentality that he’s fighting for his position on the team.
“I feel like everything I do, I come out competing,” he said. “I think that’s just what’s gotten me to this level.”
As much work as there is on the field, there’s just as much off it. Along with trying to learn the defense, Fuller said he’ll be spending a lot of the break between now and training camp doing strength and conditioning work.
He hasn’t even had time to explore the city since being drafted, but he said there likely will be a few days soon for that. Right now, the focus is learning the ins and outs of the 4-3 defense, which Jennings said isn’t as tough as it seems.
“The good thing about this defense is it’s not hard,” he said. “It’s not hard to get in the mix and make some things happen and be where you’re supposed to be. That’s all we ask for: Be where you’re supposed to be and do your job, and I think the plays will come to them.”
It doesn’t hurt to have a couple of Pro Bowlers around in Jennings and Tillman. Fuller said that has slowed down the action and made it easier to catch on.
The main goals of minicamp were to improve and become more comfortable in the system. Now that it’s over, Fuller think he’s accomplished that.
“It went well, being able to come in and learn the defense, as well as all the OTA practices that we had,” Fuller said. “I feel like I came out and got better, and I’m looking forward to coming out in training camp and continuing to grow.”