Thanks to daily practice reps and support from veteran teammates, rookie defensive lineman Eddie Goldman's comfort level with the Bears is growing.
"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable," said the second-round draft pick from Florida State. "Repetitions and the vets taking me under their wings and teaching me certain things about the game just allows me to play better and play faster."
|Rookie Eddie Goldman is congratulated by safety Brock Vereen after recovering a fumble in last Saturday night's preseason win over the Colts.|
Asked what he admires most about Ratliff, Goldman said: "His consistency, how physical he is and how he literally takes this like a job. I mean, this is what he does and he's so detailed in what he does."
With Ratliff suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL's policy and program on abuse of substances, Goldman likely will be among those expected to help fill the void. But he isn't worried about replacing his mentor.
"I'm just focused on getting out there and playing with the team," Goldman said. "I don't look at it any differently. He's still going to be out there helping me no matter what. I'm just focused on playing with those 10 other guys out there."
Ratliff has been impressed with Goldman's development and is eager to see how the 21-year-old fares with expanded playing time early in the season.
"He's coming along nicely," Ratliff said. "The positive thing is younger guys get a lot more experience, a lot more reps. They have an opportunity to really get better and establish themselves. Part of my job is helping them doing that, and that's what I'm going to do."
Bears coach John Fox also is pleased witth how Goldman has been progressing.
"He's had a good camp," Fox said. "He's still learning. It's a new level, like going from JV to varsity, kind of like that going from college ball to pro football. But I like what I've seen; he's stout, he's learning to transition faster, recognizing the run and pass, the difference. He's a big body that pushes the pocket. I like where he's headed."
Goldman has also benefited from facing veterans on the other side of the ball, namely guards Matt Slauson and Kyle Long and center Will Montgomery.
"When you put your hand down and the ball's about to snap, you have to have a plan going up against these guys," Goldman said. "Slauson has been in the league about eight years. Kyle's a Pro Bowler. Will's been in the league for like 11 years. So you definitely have to have a plan and you have to be detailed with your technique as well."
The Bears selected Goldman in the second round of this year's draft. The 6-4, 332-pounder was a three-year contributor and two-year starter at Florida State.
Goldman opened all 13 games at defensive end as a sophomore in 2013, helping the Seminoles win the BCS National Championship. He then moved to nose tackle last season and was named first-team All-ACC after recording 35 tackles and four sacks.
After the Bears drafted Goldman, general manager Ryan Pace told reporters that he was impressed with how Goldman produced impact plays when Florida State needed them most.
Last season in a 23-17 overtime win over Clemson, Goldman forced a fumble that the Seminoles recovered with 1:36 left in the fourth quarter of a tie game. In overtime, he recorded a sack and made a key stop on fourth-and-1.
"He made three game-changing plays that really stick in your head," Pace said after the draft.
The Bears are hoping for more of the same this season and beyond.