May 11, 2012; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Brandon Venson (85) catches a pass against safety Brandon Hardin (35) during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to Kickoff... Brandon Hardin Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener

We decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals.  Thanks to one of our Twitter followers, we decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.

We’re Brandon Hardin days from the start of the Bears season.  Let’s get to know the second year safety who will be in a big battle for a roster spot in 2013.

Phil Emery definitely has a type and that would best be described as athletic.  That’s clearly evidenced in his draft picks and certainly Brandon Hardin.  How else could you explain selecting a kid who didn’t play his senior season due to injury.

Hardin missed the entire 2011 season due to a shoulder injury, but that didn’t stop Phil Emery from spending a high draft pick (#16 in the third round) on the Oregon State recruit.  He was invited to the Combine where he put up stellar measurables, including running 4.43 seconds in the forty yard dash.  Despite playing cornerback in college, Hardin was selected to be a safety for the Bears.

In the preseason last season, Hardin suffered a season ending neck injury.  The injury wasn’t too serious, but it was serious enough where he could be stashed on IR.  This definitely set him back in his development.

I personally think that Hardin should slide back to cornerback.  Considering the logjam at safety and the lack of depth at corner, I think it would make sense.  Given his size (6’3″ and 217 lbs), I think he could do really well as a possible successor for Tillman down the road.  With the size of receivers and the use of tight ends, having another big corner would be a boon to the Bears.

The big question is whether Hardin can make the roster.  He hasn’t played meaningful football for two full seasons now, so the rust factor cannot be overlooked.  If Hardin can’t make the roster, it will be a big failure on Emery’s part as a third round pick of his first draft will depart the team.  Like most backups, he’ll need to excel at special teams and have good showings in the preseason.

There are two notable 35’s I’d like to single out, a pair of running backs Anthony “A-Train” Thomas and Neal Anderson.  A-Train was the Rookie of the Year in 2001 as he carried the Bears to the playoffs in an unlikely campaign.  Anderson, on the other hand,  had one of the toughest jobs in football history, succeeding the legendary Walter Payton, and doing it at a Pro Bowl level.

We’re 35 days from kickoff.  Are you ready???

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