Bears May Use Rookie as Starting Linebacker on Sunday

Chicago Bears take on Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field

The Brian Urlacher era is over in Chicago, so who will replace him in the Bears opener Sunday?

Two players.

There's a good chance the Bears will rotate both DJ Williams and rookie Jon Bostic.

"We certainly could," admitted Bears head coach Marc Trestman. "We're going to leave it all wide open in terms of how we are at the end of the week."

Ten-year veteran DJ Williams was signed as a free agent after the Broncos released him earlier this year, but he's been out since straining his calf July 31st in Bears training camp, missing all four preseason games.

Williams returned to practice this week after watching 2nd round draft pick Bostic fill in admirably in his place.

"Every day is competition," Williams admitted. "But we're all friends. We all understand that's the nature of the game. The day you stop competing is the day you get out of here."

Bostic showed to be an impact hitter after one he laid on was fined $21,000 for a hit on Wide Receiver Mike Willie in Chicago's second preseason game against the Chargers.

He's shown good instinct but the Bears liked the veteran savvy of Williams in the opener. Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker explains choosing Williams over Bostic this way: "He's a veteran player, he's got a high football IQ. He's been there before. He knows what it's like."

Still, the Bears coaching staff isn't against rotating two players and moving them around.

Williams conditioning isn't quite good enough to make 60 to 70 plays.

"It's never easy," Williams said Wednesday. "I'm prepared. I know coming into the first game you're going to be a little gassed, a little winded. The first game of the season everyone's going to be like that."

A rookie has never started at linebacker opening day for the Bears in the Super Bowl era. That includes Brian Urlacher, the first round draft pick out of New Mexico who retired after thirteen seasons in Chicago made his first start Week three, September 17, 2000.

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