Booker looking to make a run with Bears
Thursday night might be the last time Lorenzo Booker wears a Bears uniform, since final cuts are due less than 24 hours after the preseason finale at Cleveland.
But the fifth-year veteran running back isn't obsessing over it.
"I don't control what goes on up there in the coaches' offices, and I don't even want to stress myself out like that," Booker said. "This is my sixth NFL training camp, so if I haven't learned that by now, then I don't know what I was doing before.
"It's the same as every other game. You've just got to focus on doing your job one play at a time and let the chips fall where they may."
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Booker has more than enough on his plate with his own assignments and responsibilities without worrying about whether coaches will choose him or Armando Allen for the No. 3 RB spot.
For players with secure jobs, the overriding concern in the final preseason game is avoiding injury.
There's much more at stake for Booker, which isn't a problem since he says he approaches every situation with a sense of urgency.
"Every day is challenging," he said. "I'm scared before every game. I'm scared before every practice, and I feel like when you lose that edge it's time to stop.
"It doesn't matter whether it's the fourth preseason game or the NFC championship. I'm terrified, and it's just a matter of going out there and not letting it change who you are as a player."
That approach has been working for a long time for Booker, who was rated the No. 3 college prospect in the country by Rivals.com after rushing for 5,981 yards and 99 touchdowns in his final two seasons at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif.
In three varsity seasons he accumulated 8,502 rushing yards and 137 touchdowns.
But Booker's career has stalled in the NFL after he enjoyed modest success as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins, who made him their third-round draft pick in 2007 out of Florida State.
That year he rushed 28 times for 125 yards (4.5-yard average) and caught 28 passes for 237 yards and an 8.5-yard average.
Booker, 28, was with the Minnesota Vikings the past two seasons, where he was used primarily as a kickoff returner, averaging a respectable 23.8 yards on 37 attempts.
He busted a 105-yard TD return on a kickoff in the second preseason game, which made Bears coaches sit up and take notice.
Special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said Booker did most of the work on his own.
"It's always good to make a play. It helped my conditioning," Booker said, laughing. "I was tired. It's always good to be able to take advantage of a play, especially when you're getting limited reps, to show the staff the kind of things that you're capable of doing.
"To put a return on tape to where they're still excited about it, it definitely makes you feel good."
Booker has rushed for 27 yards on 10 preseason carries and caught 4 passes for 30 yards. He believes he's gotten an opportunity to show coaches what he's capable of doing, but he night need to do more Thursday night.
"I feel like I've played to my strengths," he said, "which for me is obviously in the return game and being able to create plays in space and make people miss. The good thing about that return is I was able to cover all of that in one play.
"But obviously there's more to me as a player. I've started at PP (punt protector) for Minnesota toward the end of (last) year, and I've played a bunch of different positions on other special-teams units.
"I'm just as effective on those, too, and I feel that this week will be an opportunity to show that."
It could be the final opportunity for Booker.