NEWS

Bears notebook: Rookie corner gets taste of life as starter

Reed Schreck

Sitting behind Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Ricky Manning Jr. and Trumaine McBride on the depth chart, rookie corner Zackary Bowman usually has to wait awhile during team drills.

That’s how life is for third-stringers. That’s not how Monday went for Bowman at Halas Hall.

Tillman, Vasher and Manning Jr. all were missing from the Chicago Bears’ voluntary organized team activities. McBride was on the sidelines injured, wearing a hat instead of a helmet.

That put Bowman, a fifth-round pick from Nebraska, at right corner opposite second-year corner Corey Graham with the starters for one day.

“I don’t think I got a taste of being a regular, but it was different,” Bowman said. “I have high expectations — you don’t want to let those guys down because they’re out there working their butts off. I have to push myself extra hard to do good.”

How he did would be judged later, as defensive coordinator Bob Babich said he won’t have a chance to “see exactly how he did” until he watches the tape.

“Those guys (the rookies) progressively have gotten better, but they have a long way to go,” Babich said. “You can move them around and see them on the football field. At this point, that’s what we want to do — see their movement, see how they react when getting attacked.”

Bowman got to cover Devin Hester occasionally, holding his own.

“He’s fast, a very fast guy,” Bowman said. “He runs his routes with more speed.”

Bowman said he learned a lot for one day.

“Especially how those guys work together as one,” he said. “That’s one thing I noticed. I learned techniques, what to do and what teammates will do to help.

“Technique will override everything if you’re dead tired. Learning where your help is at ... These guys move around at a faster pace (than college). They‘re going to be there a lot faster than I expect the help.”

Rookies wait

So far, not much is happening on the rookie hazing front this year with the Bears.

“The worst thing I’ve had to do is go get drinks for people, which isn’t bad at all,” said Zackary Bowman, who expects things to change when the team gets to training camp July 23 in Bourbonnais.

Thumbs up from vet

Rookie running back Matt Forte, a second-round pick from Tulane, has impressed veteran tight end Desmond Clark so far at OTAs.

“The most challenging thing to do is pick up the blitz package, and I haven’t seen any mistakes, maybe one or two,” he said. “For a guy to come in and pick it up that well is the most impressive thing.

“Everyone knows he can run the ball. That’s the easy part.”

Manning’s conversion

Danieal Manning’s transformation from safety to nickel back has impressed defensive coordinator Bob Babich.

“He’s done a good job picking up all the little things,” he said. “Will (weak side) linebacker and nickel are the two hardest positions to play in Cover 2. There are all these little details you need to know.

“His athleticism, his speed, his ball skills, bringing them off the corner, blitzing, we thought he’d really help us. With the safety situation, with Mike Brown coming back and Brandon (McGowan) having played well and we think a lot of Kevin Payne, we thought this is the opportunity for (Manning) to see what he can do.”

Reed Schreck can be reached at (815) 987-1381 or rschreck@rrstar.com.