Bears' Porter is on-field coach for young DBs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Nine-year veteran Tracy Porter is more than the Bears' best cornerback. The 30-year-old is surrounded by a kiddie-corps secondary that includes six key players 23 or younger and another who just turned 25 last week. None of them had more than one year of NFL experience going into this season, so Porter is like a coach on the field.

    Nine-year veteran Tracy Porter is more than the Bears' best cornerback. The 30-year-old is surrounded by a kiddie-corps secondary that includes six key players 23 or younger and another who just turned 25 last week. None of them had more than one year of NFL experience going into this season, so Porter is like a coach on the field. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/29/2016 6:52 PM

Nine-year veteran Tracy Porter is more than the Bears' best cornerback.

The 30-year-old is surrounded by a kiddie-corps secondary that includes six key players 23 or younger and another who just turned 25 last week. None of them had more than one year of NFL experience going into this season, so Porter is like a coach on the field.

 

Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell and assistant defensive backs coach Sam Garnes have their hands full with the youthful group on the sidelines and in the classroom. Porter does his best to help the learning process on the field.

"I'm like a third coach," he said, "an on-the-field coach. So it's my job to coach these younger guys up. Try to help them and tell them what to look for and what's coming -- what I think is coming -- and to get them in the right spot so they can play quicker, so they're not overthinking, (which) is going to slow them down."

Porter has half of the Bears' 4 interceptions while often shadowing the opponent's top receiver. He's been dealing with a persistent knee injury for much of the season but has still played 91.3 percent of the defensive snaps.

"In two or three of the games the last month, he's had knee issues that have had to be tended to on game day before he goes out there," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "The guy has been showing up. He didn't practice at all prior to the (Packers) game, not even the walk-through practices, and he goes out there and played (all) 90 plays. He's been fighting, and he's shown good resiliency with that."

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The Bears need the consistency and steadiness that Porter provides, even as 23-year-old safeties Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey continue to mature as every-game starters. And even as just-turned-25 Bryce Callahan, 22-year-old Cre'Von LeBlanc, 23-year-old Jacoby Glenn, 22-year-old Deiondre' Hall and 23-year-old De'Vante Bausby shuttle in and out of the lineup.

So Porter keeps answering the bell and downplays an injury he refers to only as "nagging."

"I'm ready each and every week," Porter said. "No one in the NFL is ever 100 percent, even if they're not on the injury report. I'm just continuing to take care of my body. It's holding up pretty good. It's not like there's something that's causing me to miss time in games.

"The only thing I can do is continue to do the same thing I would if I didn't have any nagging injuries. Just continue to prepare my body, prepare mentally and be ready to play."

Porter also will continue to help prepare his young teammates, several of whom were toasted in last week's loss to the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers who threw for 326 yards and completed 39 passes. Rodgers avoided Porter for the most part, but wide receivers Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery each had double-digit receptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The biggest thing is for them not to lose that confidence," Porter said of his young teammates. "Keep them encouraged, continue to tell these guys to communicate.

"When a veteran quarterback sees a younger guy, he's naturally going to try to attack that side. We still have confidence in the guys that we have, we just have to continue to keep that confidence."

Porter and the kids get another chance against a veteran quarterback Monday night against the Vikings and Sam Bradford, who's eighth in the NFL with a 100.3 passer rating.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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