Barring injury to Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings, first-round draft choice Kyle Fuller won't be a starting cornerback this season.
But the 14th overall pick could still see extensive playing time as an extra defensive back in passing situations, which can be almost every down in the NFL.
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Rookie minicamp ended Sunday, and now the younger players and veterans will be working together during OTAs (organized team activities). Bears Coach Marc Trestman said Tillman and Jennings won't see Fuller as competition, and that the rookie will benefit from their presence.
"Certainly we all feel fortunate for (Fuller) that he's got experienced corners in the room that love football, that are passionate about the game and are motivated to help him," Trestman said. "They know that this is not a two-wide receiver league. It's a three-wide receiver league. We're going to need Kyle, and I have all the confidence in the world that he'll utilize that information and the insight that those other guys can give him to get better quickly."
Fuller is anxious to get on the field in any capacity.
"I have experience playing the nickel," he said. "I played a lot of that at Virginia Tech, so whatever they ask me to do, I'll be ready to do it."
Fuller will have competition for the nickel spot from 2012 sixth-round pick Isaiah Frey, who played there most of last season, and from 10th-year veteran Kelvin Hayden. Hayden went to training camp last year as the top nickel corner but suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in early August.
Whoever wins the job will see a lot of action. The nickel corner has become almost like a 12th starter with the proliferation of passing in the league.
"You need to have multiple corners," said Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. "A lot of the defenses that we have to play, that we're required to play nowadays in the National Football League, are sub-packages with three corners, or corner-types, in the game. Typically, at least half of the snaps that you'll play in the season will be with five defensive backs in the game. And sometimes you'll go into games and almost every single snap will be in sub-personnel. So there are ample opportunities for guys to show what they can do and become contributors to a productive rotation. A third corner is like a starter. A third corner plays as much if not more than your third linebacker in a 4-3 (defense)."
Trestman has already seen enough from Fuller that he's looking forward to seeing more.
"I just have a lot of confidence in Kyle Fuller," Trestman said. "He's his own man. He's a very smart, confident young man, and he wants to learn."
For Fuller, who was preceded to the NFL by two older brothers and has a younger brother at Virginia Tech, it's what he's always done. Now he's just doing it at the highest level.
"I've been doing this all my life, so I'm glad to be here and get started," he said at the end of minicamp. "I feel like I have a better understanding of the defense. You're not going to come and pick it up in one day. But my goal was to come out here and get better every day, and I feel like I did that, and I'll continue to do that."
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