LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman left the door open for both veteran D.J. Williams and rookie Jon Bostic receiving snaps at middle linebacker in the regular season opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It certainly could (be the way we go),” Trestman said. “We’re going to leave it wide open in terms of where we are at the end of the week. They’re both going to be ready to play middle linebacker and there certainly wouldn’t be any reason why we wouldn’t want to move them around and in-and-out of the game.”
The question facing Williams is his conditioning. The 10-year veteran missed the bulk of the preseason after suffering a serous calf injury at the beginning of training camp. That setback allowed Bostic to start all four preseason games at middle linebacker where the rookie made a series of memorable plays, including an interception return for a touchdown in Carolina and a vicious hit on San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie that later drew a $21,000 fine from the NFL. Bostic is appealing the fine.
But Williams had full participation in practice on Wednesday according to the team’s official injury report and spent the workout splitting first-team reps with Bostic, per a source.
“We’re going to let Williams work the week,” Trestman said. “He’s looked good. He looked good today at practice. He moved well. He looks like he’s in decent condition. I don’t know if he’s in game condition to play in 60 or 70 plays or 50 or 60 plays, but we’re just going to let the week take its course. Both him and Jonathan are getting plenty of work.”
Trestman said that Bosic’s workload on special teams could increase versus the Bengals in the event the team decides to start Williams on Sunday. Williams is not believed to be a special teams contributor.
“There’s no reason why they both can’t be up and if Jonathan isn’t taking as many snaps at middle linebacker position it will give him more opportunities on special teams," Trestman said. “If it continues this way, we’ll see how it goes, we’ll make a final decision on how we are going to play them. It looks like both will be able to play. How much and who will start … we’ve got a couple of more days … we’ll see how D.J. feels at the end of the week.”
The Bears originally tabbed Williams to replace Brian Urlacher after talks broke down with the future Hall of Famer in free agency. Williams signed a one-year deal with the Bears on March 22 following a nine-year stint in Denver where he started 115 games and recorded 100-plus tackles five times. Although the Bears used a second round pick on Bostic in April’s NFL draft, Williams entered training camp as the unquestioned starter before the injury.
“It was weird,” Williams said. “My last two seasons I missed the preseason so I don't want to say I'm used to it but I've been through this before. And, you know, being a veteran guy you kind of know what you need to do to get yourself prepared for the game.
You know, it's never easy. But since I've been through it before. I’m prepared. I know coming into the first game there's going to be a little gas, a little winded. But the first game of the season everybody is going to be kind of like that.”