SAN DIEGO, Calif. — As if the task of covering Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates wasn't enough, Jonathan Anderson had the green dot on his helmet.
The dot meant the undrafted rookie out of TCU, who has only been on the active roster for a month, called the defensive plays for the Bears in Monday night’s 22-19 win over the Chargers.
Anderson played every snap while Christian Jones, who had been calling the plays in Shea McClellin’s absence, rotated with LaRoy Reynolds.
“They trust me a little bit more, so that’s why I got a little bit more action,” Anderson said. “I was just out there trying to do my job. That was my main focus, that was the whole defense’s focus, finishing.”
The soft-spoken Anderson said he practiced all week, letting the defense get accustomed to his voice and signaling. He found out on Sunday that he would definitely be wearing the helmet with the communication system to get the play call from Vic Fangio.
“I had to really listen, tune in to what Coach was saying,” he said.
Anderson finished the game with a team-high 12 tackles, making some nice open-field stops, but also showing some room to continue to grow. He had to handle Danny Woodhead or Antonio Gates most of the night.
“Don’t overthink it,” Anderson said of his mindset. “Just go out there and make a play.”
An unusual return: Eight weeks ago, Mitch Unrein was at Qualcomm Stadium playing defensive tackle — for the Chargers. He returned Monday night a member of the Bears, notching one tackle as a rotational part of the D-line.
“It was crazy,” he said of the circumstance. “In pre-game before we got there, I did a little stretching and running, went over and saw all the guys. Brought back a lot of memories. At the end of the day, we’re all competitors; we go out there and give it our all. Thankfully, we came out with the victory.”
The Chargers released Unrein following Week Two and hoped to bring him back, but his former coach in Denver, John Fox, brought him to Chicago.
He said that he knew a little more about the individual Chargers’ tendencies on the offensive line and tried to help his fellow defensive linemen out. Focused on the importance of the win for the team, Unrein, who also got two snaps in the goal-line offense, did try to reflect a bit on the opportunity to return to San Diego and get a win.
“It feels good,” he said. “When you get released from a team and come back on a different team and beat them, it feels really good. We’re going to let this win sink in and celebrate a little bit and [get] back to work on Wednesday.”
The new nickel: The biggest surprise after the bye came in the Bears’ nickel defense, when undrafted rookie Bryce Callahan, who just joined the active roster on Oct. 19, was the slot corner over Sherrick McManis and Alan Ball. He said the coaches told him during the bye week that they were going to give him a shot to see what he’s got.
Callahan made some key stops against Minnesota but had to leave the game on the Vikings’ game-tying drive with a concussion.
“I was real mad because, the concussion protocol, you’ve got to be more safe,” he said Monday night. ”I didn’t think I had a concussion, so I was mad coming out at a big point of the game. I was pretty frustrated.”
Throughout the week, Callahan went through and cleared the protocol, allowing him to get his first NFL start against San Diego. He had three tackles and one pass defensed. He had a tough assignment of covering crafty route runner Stevie Johnson.
“Just to use my technique, keep my eyes on their hips, don’t let the game get fast for me,” he said. “Same game I’ve been playing since I was a little kid.”
Callahan almost had a pick in the end zone — “I’ll be thinking about that for a while. I should have had that” — and also contributed on special teams. He credited Ball and Tracy Porter for helping with some tricks of the trade and acknowledged his confidence is soaring.
“It’s gone through the roof,” he said. “Being able to play and realizing I could go out here and do this stuff, too.”