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Rookie Diaries

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Bears rookie diaries with Tyler Scott, Tyrique Stevenson
By Tyler Scott and Tyrique Stevenson, as told to Gabby Hajduk

Bears fourth-round pick Tyler Scott—a receiver from Cincinnati—and second-round pick Tyrique Stevenson—a defensive back from Miami—share their training camp experiences exclusively on ChicagoBears.com. This series features both players giving first-person accounts once a week through the preseason.

Tyler Scott

Week 6

Heading into the last preseason game, I just needed to prove myself. That's how it's been since the first day I walked through the door. Especially after not playing in Indianapolis, I needed to show my teammates and the people that brought me here that I belong on this team.

While I didn't get too many opportunities on offense against the Bills, I made the most of my assignments on special teams with returning a few kicks, catching a couple punts and making a play as a gunner. I just wanted to make an impact anywhere and I think I did that on my 56-yard kick return.

Before the third kick went up, I set up the play in my mind and once I caught the ball, it all unfolded the way I planned. The guys on the right side did such a great job of sealing it off, having the leverage that they're supposed to have. I went right, got around the defense, and then from there you just tick up a bit because you see daylight. As a returner, all you want is space and when you see it, you think, "oh gosh, now it's an opportunity to take it to the house."

Then I felt somebody from the other side of the field closing in on me. He clipped me, and then I saw the kicker coming on an angle toward me. Reflexes took over and I cut back inside the kicker, then got tackled by someone from the middle. Looking back, if I did things a bit differently at the end of the play, I could've scored. But it's easy to say that now.

When I came off the field, I remember hearing one of the guys on the starting return team say, "yeah, I can definitely block for somebody like that." Hearing that was a huge confidence booster for me, just knowing my teammates feel that way about me. That's one of the biggest things – I want my teammates to be confident that when I step on the field, they can trust that I'm gonna make a play, that I'll show up.

I had some guys coming up and hugging me on the sideline, so it was good to get that type of support. It was a great way to close out the preseason.

Now, things are starting to get real. This week there were roster cuts and it was definitely an eye-opening experience, something I've never experienced before. I can't lie, I truly felt a little nervous going into Tuesday. You hear, "oh you're a mid-round pick, you'll be okay." But, you truly never know.

I felt confident in myself, though. I knew I did the best I could; I put my best foot forward every day. You can control your future to an extent with how you play and how you show up, but at the end of the day, the decision isn't in your hands. On Tuesday I was just hoping I did enough. I felt like I worked hard, had the right mentality, continued to learn, tried to be super coachable, stay humble about my situations. I was confident I went about it the right way.

All I kept thinking was if I see somebody that looks unfamiliar walking toward me Tuesday, I'm running around the building. You gotta catch me because I'm not leaving. Thankfully, it didn't come to that.

After earning a spot on the 53, it's like, "okay, cool I made it in the door, but now what? What's my role on the team? How can I make an impact?" With Week 1 so close, I'm focused on being ready in every phase. Whether I'm needed as a receiver or on special teams, I want to be a valuable piece and stay ready for all scenarios.

The importance of preparation is something I've taken from the vets. Even if we're learning plays that I'm not in, I still write those down as if that's me just in case someone goes down or it's, "Okay, Tyler. Get in there." Again, I want my team to be confident that they can put me in and I'll know what to do.

Going through this past week – seeing guys I've formed bonds with start dropping, seeing the groups get smaller at practice – it's been a tough "welcome to the NFL moment."

While I've had some of those realization moments in training camp and the preseason, I don't think I've fully grasped that I'm in the NFL. I think it's going to take that Week 1 game – a divisional rivalry against Green Bay, the home opener, hearing the crowd, seeing the hype, understanding what's at stake – to really feel like this is real.

Tyrique Stevenson

Week 6

Finally, I got my interception. End of the first quarter, we're in man coverage. I heard the Bills sideline hyping their guy up, saying, "this you right here, Gabe (Davis)." I'm thinking, "all right, we'll see about that."

He ran his route and once I turned and started running, I realized he was heading out of bounds. I knew it'd have to be a perfect throw to hit him on the sideline. Then his eyes got big, which means the ball is coming. So I said to myself, "turn around." As soon as I do, the ball was right there in my face.

I wasn't even thinking about my feet. I just thought about catching the ball. Catch the ball. I guess getting both of my feet in was just a natural instinct. Then I got up and celebrated with my team.

A couple of the vets told me I made a good play and normally rookies don't make that play. They usually let the ball hit them in the back of the head. So some good praises and that meant a lot. The fans were happy. My family was happy. I was happy. The people in the building, my brothers, they were happy.

I didn't really hit me until Monday when the game ball was in my locker at Halas Hall. After the interception, I took the ball to the sideline and threw it to the ref. After the game, my coach said I should've kept that ball, but when I got back to the facility it was there. I just thought, "this is God." I was very thankful.

Then I realized, "oh wow. I just caught a pick against the Buffalo Bills." The excitement rush came back, and it just made me want to go back out there and get a lot more. I want to keep competing and keep bringing back more interceptions.

Making that play pretty much showed me that whatever I put my mind to, I can accomplish it. Going back to the [first] two [preseason] games – dropping two picks in two weeks – then finally closing preseason out on a good note felt good.

It let me know that I gotta keep working hard and keep my mind on the main thing. Eventually if you're living right and treat football with respect, your goals will soon align with your work habits.

My mentality and intensity is something a few of my coaches and teammates have talked about in press conferences or interviews lately. It means a lot that they respect me enough to say good things about me and share them with the world.

Coach Alan [Williams] brought up my grit the other day and I honestly think that developed in high school. I always had it in me, but I never accessed it until my junior year. In my sophomore year, I was [a] receiver, didn't really get catches. Then one of my homeboys, DJ Ivey, broke his ankle and I got put at cornerback.

I got tortured. It was bad. I got tortured that whole year to the point I had to change numbers and go back to receiver. But I came back the next year and became one of the top corners in the nation.

I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a cornerback. I wanted to go out there and show myself that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I started watching Patrick Peterson highlights because we have similar body types. He's a bigger corner like me. His tape gave me some confidence that I could make a name for myself as a lockdown corner.

That year brought something out in me and made me understand who I am as a player. That year brought the dog out of me, brought out the mindset and confidence I have today.

I think about that year all the time, like what if I went back to receiver? But I'm happy I stuck with it because this position allows me to be my true self. I've got grit. I want to get dirty; I want to get physical. Cornerback gives me the room to do that and go out there and be myself.

While it's been a blessing to go out and play in the preseason, I've been waiting for the first real game. Now it's for real for real. Especially with the first game being against the Packers at home, it's going to solidify the actual feeling of being in the NFL.

With roster cuts this week, a lot of guys I played alongside the last few weeks aren't here anymore. Now, it's getting that sense of who I'm going to war with.

From Play 1 next Sunday, I want to put the NFL and everybody on notice, make sure I go out and be the best version of Tyrique Stevenson every snap. I want to represent the Bears in the right way, especially in a game like that. I want to go out there, keep a level head and make plays like they brought me here to do.

As the 2023 edition of Rookie Diaries comes to a close, ChicagoBears.com spoke with Scott & Stevenson together so they could expand on their growing bond as teammates and friends as they look ahead to their first NFL season.



The bond between Scott and Stevenson formed months before the rookie duo shared a locker room at Halas Hall. In Week 2 of the Rookie Diaries series, the two talked about meeting each other in Tampa when training for the NFL Combine at House of Athletes.

While 2023 is when their friendship formed, it was 2021 when Scott and Stevenson first crossed paths. Stevenson remembers the exact date: Jan. 1, 2021, when Cincinnati and Georgia faced off in the Peach Bowl. Scott was a freshman for the Bearcats while Stevenson was a sophomore for the Bulldogs.

When the two arrived in Tampa this January – training full-time in the city up until the draft – Scott thought Stevenson was familiar, but couldn't quite place it. Not knowing anyone from Miami – where Stevenson played his final two years of college football – Scott figured his mind was playing tricks on him.

Then Stevenson brought up Georgia and that's when it clicked. Eric Stokes, now a Packers cornerback, opted out of the bowl game, allowing Stevenson to make his first career start at cornerback. That's when he lined up against Scott and, without knowing, met his future teammate.

"I caught a 4-yard out, my only catch of the game," Scott said. "I still have a video of it in my phone. I didn't get too many reps that game. I was a freshman that year. So I remember the face, the scouting report, I'm like something looks so familiar. That's how we first originally met and it came back full circle when we met again."

Almost exactly two years later, the rookies grew from strangers to brothers in the four months they spent together in Florida. Stevenson's favorite memory with Scott is when the two experienced their first disagreement when talking about their perspectives on life. In that moment, Stevenson and Scott realized their personalities couldn't be further apart.

"We are two completely different people," Scott said. "But I feel like that just brings us together too and that's what makes us connect, that opposites connect. We're able to agree to disagree on so many different things. But, it's all love between the both of us. Every time I see him, I know he's going to say something that's going to irk me, get on my nerves. But it's just all fun, just talking and chopping it up with each other."

What makes Stevenson laugh now when reflecting on that moment is the conversation had nothing to do with football, but their opinions on relationships. As they watched each other train and chase their dream of reaching the NFL, Stevenson realized they actually had the same goal.

"On the football field, we're both competitors," Stevenson said. "We both want to go out and dominate the guy across from us. We both feel like we prepared for this. We both feel like we're meant to be here. Everything is coming together for the both of us for a reason.

"They didn't have to draft us, but they brought us here to give us an opportunity to showcase that, to put on for the Chicago Bears, put on for our family, also put on for our last name. So we both definitely understand that this is a great opportunity. We both want to succeed and possibly bring a Super Bowl back here."

Since reuniting in Chicago, the relationship between Stevenson and Scott has only strengthened. While they don't often face off in practice, it's the support system they provide each other in the locker room or on the sideline that matters most.

The confidence Stevenson exudes on a daily basis is what Scott values most about his teammate.

"He's walked in with this dog mentality," Scott said. "He's walked in with this chip on his shoulder, and an 'I'm the guy, I belong here' type mentality. It shows when he plays, you just see no fear when he lines up. No matter who is across from him, he just sees Os, he doesn't see people."

Even with Stevenson's mentality, Scott also notices a rare humbleness rather than cockiness. He appreciates how the cornerback always puts his best foot forward, remains extremely coachable and shows up for his team each day.

From Stevenson's perspective, Scott is the exact opposite, calling him a "calm breeze." Stevenson compares he and Scott to brothers, with him being the vocal one and Scott being the levelheaded one.

"Tyler is calm, cool and collected, understands what his purpose is, understand what his game is. For somebody like me, who is outspoken and confident, I need that sometimes. When we talk, I bring certain ideas, he brings certain ideas and it evens out because he's calm and I'm kind of all over the place. I just appreciate his calmness. I appreciate his approach to the game. I appreciate his hard work."

With the Bears first game of the 2023 season on the horizon, the rookies are eager to capture their first big moments as NFL players. But Stevenson and Scott are equally as excited to watch each other succeed.

Knowing Scott takes pride in making it to the NFL and representing Akron, Ohio, Stevenson is rooting for his teammate to show out for his hometown. Stevenson understands what it's like to come from a place where these opportunities are rare. He's excited to watch Scott "go out there and ball."

On the flip side, Scott lights up when he thinks about the playmaking ability Stevenson already highlighted in the preseason. Scott is proud of the way his teammate has handled the opportunity to assume the cornerback spot opposite of Jaylon Johnson and looks forward to him making more "splash plays" this season.

"We've got the division rival in Green Bay Week 1," Scott said. "I'm excited to see what Tyrique can do. I'm confident in what he can do and that's big, just having trust in your teammates. I definitely have that confidence and trust that when he's out there, I know that he'll make a play. He can show up. So, it should be fun to share that for sure."

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