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Now healthy, Fitts has something to prove

Posted May 14, 2018

Productive when healthy at Utah, Bears rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts enters the NFL with a chip on his shoulder after durability issues dropped him into the sixth round of the draft.

Listening to outside linebacker Kylie Fitts speak Sunday at Bears rookie minicamp, it sounds like he's determined to become the steal of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 6-4, 265-pounder understands that durability issues at Utah caused him to drop into the sixth round, but he believes that he should have been picked earlier.

"Honestly, I was a little frustrated," Fitts said. "Although I had the injury history, I still feel at the Senior Bowl, at the Combine, I was still able to prove myself, show my athleticism. I was hoping to go a little early, but I think it all worked out for the best, and I know God has a plan for everything. Coming to the Chicago Bears is a huge blessing and I'm just excited to get to work."

A transfer from UCLA, Fitts blossomed for the Utes in 2015, registering 41 tackles, seven sacks and four forced fumbles while appearing in 13 games with 11 starts. But he was lost for the season in the second game in 2016 with a torn Lisfranc ligament in his foot. He then missed three contests and saw limited action in five others in 2017 due to a sprained ankle and sprained shoulder.

Fitts has since completely recovered from his injuries and practiced without restrictions over the weekend at the Bears' rookie minicamp. He insists that he doesn't dwell on the durability issues that sidelined him in college and hurt his draft stock.

"Not at all," Fitts said. "I don't think about that at all. It's kind of all in the past. I think I got all my injuries kind of over with. I think it was just a run of bad luck and it's over now. I'm healthy, feeling good now, and I'm banking on remaining healthy and playing good."

The Bears see Fitts as an intriguing prospect who possesses excellent size, speed, toughness, instincts and character. His traits are evident on his game tape and helped him deliver an impressive performance in drills and tests at the NFL Combine.

Bears coach Matt Nagy said that what he saw from Fitts during the three-day rookie minicamp was "very similar to what we saw on tape."

"He's a kid that has a good motor," Nagy said. "He can bend well. He accelerates well and then he has nice size, too. He's a really good kid that's putting it all together. From Day 1 to [Sunday] in the red zone, you could see that he's what we thought he was."

Fitts believes that his versatility is his greatest strength.

"I'm able to rush the passer, play against the run and also drop back into coverage, all three phases really good," he said.

After playing defensive end at Utah, Fitts is adjusting to the outside linebacker position in the Bears' 3-4 defense.

"The transition has been pretty easy," he said. "Coach [Brandon] Staley has been really good with me. We've been working a lot together, watching a lot of film. And then on the field, he's just been working really good with me, teaching me a lot of technique on how to drop and different things like that, and also helping improve my pass rush.

"He's been working all three phases of the game, and I'm excited to keep working with him and continue getting better."

While the Bears are hoping that Fitts improves their pass rush, the Utah product is also confident in his ability to defend the run.

"I think I play very low with good leverage," he said. "If you watch film in college when I was playing against the run and tight ends, I felt like I was pretty dominant [defending] the run, especially against the tight ends. Here, I'm going to be working a lot against the tight ends, setting the edge from outside."