Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke took a few minutes after Friday’s workout to speak with the media about a variety of subjects related to the secondary, including the heavily debated safety position.
Here are some highlights:
On rookie cornerback Isaiah Frey: “We’re excited where he’s at right now. He’s got a ways to go but he is showing progress.”
On how repetition and muscle memory is key for the younger players: “Absolutely. The more they do, football is a rep game and the more reps you get the more things you do, the better you get at it. As long as they show up every day ready to go to work and they just keep getting their reps, you will see improvement every day. Now will they improve to the point where they can start? Will they improve to the point where they’re making 50 tackles? Who knows? We’ve got a long way to go but just seeing improvement every day is big.”
On whether repetition and muscle memory is also key for the safety position: “No, not really. Craig Steltz has been here a while, so you feel good about him as a backup. You like what he does and brings to the table. You’re excited about Major (Wright’s) athletic ability and hopefully with the experience he’s gotten in the last couple of years, he’ll continue to improve. Chris Conte, you like his athletic ability. He’s shown flashes of what he might be able to be. I like where he’s at right now. Then you’ve got (rookie Brandon) Hardin, he’s making a transition. Athletically, he’s got everything you want. He’s just not played the position. He’s learning as we go and he’s a smart guy so he’s able to pick it up. Again, with him, it’ll just be reps.”
On whether Hardin will be able to contribute early: “It’s too early to tell. We haven’t played a game yet. He hasn’t played a game for almost two years. I think I’m going to have to hold judgment on that, from that standpoint. You know games are different. It’s like you guys and your first big article. What’s it going to turn out like? You don’t know because you haven’t done it for a while. It’s going to be exciting. Preseason will be very important for him.”
On whether the rookies are quickly grasping the system: “They’re doing good. I’ll say this: they’re smart. (General manager) Phil (Emery) and that staff, those guys that we talked about possible selections and evaluations, they all came in as good guys and smart guys and it shows in the classroom. They pick it up well. They understand concepts. Now how well they take the concepts from the classroom to the field sometimes, you have to see how quick they do that. They’ve been able to handle that. That’s all part of it. I’m encouraged with them. It’s kind of fun to have them in the meeting rooms, is how well they learn.”
On what’s stood out about Hardin: “It’s a combination. He’s one of those guys, obviously he’s a size-speed ratio guy. He’s a big guy that played corner in college, obviously at Oregon State in the Pac 12. So he played there and those are the things you look at, and that’s what you like about him.”