Anthony Jefferson Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener
Today is a special day on the Chicago Bears 2015 calendar because it’s the day that all players, rookies and veterans alike, report to Training Camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. While that fact grabs the headlines for Bears fans, today also happens to be 46 days away from the regular season opener. We’ve been counting down the days here at Bear Goggles On in our Countdown to Kickoff series, and today we’ll rip another sheet off of that desk calendar. In the spotlight on this day is an undrafted rookie safety out of UCLA who is largely unknown to Bears fans, #46 Anthony Jefferson.
The natural first question is: who the heck is Anthony Jefferson? I have nothing to gain by acting like I knew prior to researching the young man for the purposes of this post, so you’re not alone in asking that question. Maybe we have some readers that are UCLA alums or who follow the school’s football program, but by in large I’ll assume that none of you know who this guy is.
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The first thing that seemed relevant to me is that he’s a safety. The mind of a Bears fan quickly goes to the trouble we’ve had at that position in the last decade or so and we immediately reconcile the fact that we don’t know this guy with the idea that we’re always on the look out for the next competent young safety. Welcome to your first NFL training camp, young Mr. Jefferson!
Now that the basic introductions are out of the way, who is he really? He’s a two-year starter for the Bruins who made 162 total tackles over the course of his junior and senior years, both of which made him the third-leading tackler on the team. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection after his senior year. Check out the below video clip to get a visual sense of the young man:
Initially when I looked up the clip and read “the interception”, my assumption was that it was a big play in a big moment — hence the title. That may be the case here, but there is also some dual meaning. This was his only interception on the season. So it literally was THE interception.
High interception totals does not necessarily a great safety make, so I won’t get too carried away but it’s not the kind of statistic that gets your attention. No matter. He’s more a tackling safety than a ballhawk and if that’s what he’s bringing to the table for the Bears, then Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio just might take a liking to him.
What To Expect From Anthony Jefferson In 2015:
We would be crazy to expect much from an undrafted free agent and that’s simply the reality of the situation. Players like this surprise fans and make NFL rosters every year, however, so on the flip side we can’t rule Jefferson out completely just yet.
Plus we all know that safety is a position the Bears organization has struggled to fill adequately for a long time, so if it takes an undrafted free agent rising to prominence to shake us from this rut — so be it.
Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive back Anthony Jefferson (23) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jefferson is fighting an uphill battle, no doubt, but in his favor is the fact that really only one of the safety spots is spoken for (Antrel Rolle) while the other is up for grabs. This time of year is one of significant flux at the bottom end of NFL rosters, and that’s where Jefferson figures to languish precariously throughout August.
September 1st is when NFL teams have to cut down to 75 players and if Jefferson is still around after that, that’s an accomplishment.
Competing with Jefferson for a roster spot will be second-year man Brock Vereen, fifth round draft selection Adrian Amos, Malcom Bronson and Sherrod Martin. Ryan Mundy is who I have pegged as the starter alongside Rolle, for what it’s worth. Everybody else will earn their place with special teams play and showing well in the preseason. Good luck, #46.
Next: Who Will Start in 2015 on the Bears Defense?