In the absence of any Bears starters, there have been ample opportunities for players lower on the depth chart to make a statement.
Early in the second quarter of Saturday night’s preseason game, with the Colts holding a 10-0 lead and driving deep into Bears territory, Bush made a play that swung momentum in the Bears’ direction. Chicago would outscore Indianapolis 20-7 from that point forward and collect their first win of the preseason.
Colts quarterback Chad Kelly appeared to connect on a four-yard pass to tight end Hale Hentges at the Bears’9-yard line. As Bush and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski went to the ground with Hentges, it seemed like the play was dead.
Almost imperceptible from the cameras and sidelines, Kwiatkoski had gotten a hand on the ball, keeping Hentges from securing control. Bush noticed this.
“I saw him going for the ball,” said Bush, “and I’m like ‘I might as well try to go grab the ball, too.’ I fell down, and the ball was in my hand. I was like, ‘Oh, better go.’”
Somehow, the ball hadn’t touched the ground. Just as improbable, Hentges did not make any contact with Bush while they were both on the ground.
While the players around him acted like the play was over, Bush got to his feet and began sprinting the length of the field. With Kelly as the last man standing between Bush and the sideline, he received a crucial block from rookie cornerback Duke Shelley.
“I wasn’t used to running that far,” said Bush. “I see Chad Kelly in the screen, and I’m like ‘uh-oh’ might come grab me. I had an amazing block by Duke.”
Seconds later, he was in the end zone with a 91-yard interception return to his name. An elated Bush gave much of the credit to Kwiatkoski after the game.
“I couldn’t have made that play without him,” said Bush. “He was going after the ball. That’s all hats off to Nick right there.”
It was a big moment for the former fourth-round pick, who has been a reliable backup and occasional starter during his three years in Chicago. Bush started six games as a rookie, but the arrival of Eddie Jackson pushed him into a reserve role. Last season, Bush was able to fill in for an injured Jackson twice. Bush should be in a position to do that again in 2019 if his preseason is any indication.
Bush started the summer off on the right foot when he picked off a throw by Carolina Panthers rookie Will Grier in the preseason opener. With Saturday night’s performance, which also included three tackles and a deflected pass, Bush has continued to impress.
Bush hasn’t had an interception during the regular season in his professional career and had only four interceptions during his time at the University of Miami. He now has two in the last three weeks.
However, Bush isn’t resting on his laurels just yet. Even with two entrenched starters at safety, Bush will need to make sure he’s ready if he’s needed again.
“I still got a lot to improve,” said Bush, “but I’m grateful for the growth. I’m just grateful for what God’s doing for me right now. Hopefully, I can keep it going into the next game and going into the season.”