Alec Ogletree sat under bright lights behind a table in the Bears' interview room Wednesday, adjusting his mask before speaking with reporters.
Sitting on his couch at home a year ago, Ogletree no doubt was more comfortable, but not nearly as happy as he is these days—back in the NFL after a 10-month hiatus. Released by the Jets last Oct. 10, Ogletree signed with the Bears Aug. 4 and has emerged as a regular contributor on defense, starting all 12 games he's played.
"I was at home this time last year," Ogletree said. "I didn't know if I was going to be on a team. Obviously, I wanted to be on a team. But like I said, this time last year, I was a guy sitting at home."
In his ninth NFL season, Ogletree has never been more appreciative of the opportunity to play the sport he loves, especially with COVID-19 continuing to spread around the world.
"There's a lot of guys today that are still sitting at home that wish they could be here and be part of this, even in these circumstances," Ogletree said. "It's not always going to be good. But every day you wake up and get an opportunity to do something like this, you try to be thankful and count your blessings.
"Those guys who don't have this opportunity, I know they're wishing they could. But while I'm in it, I want to enjoy it and try to keep a positive outlook about it. There are a lot of bad things that go on in this world. But for me to have this opportunity again to play, in the midst of all this that's going on, I'm definitely thankful and blessed. Like I said, I just try to be positive about it as much as you can."
Ogletree was selected by the Rams with the 30th pick in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Georgia. Prior to joining the Bears, he played in 95 NFL games with 94 starts over eight seasons with the Rams (2013-17), Giants (2018-19) and Jets (2020), recording 679 tackles, 44 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, 12 interceptions—returning four for touchdowns—and 12 forced fumbles.
Ogletree wasted little time making an impact with the Bears this summer, registering six interceptions in his first four training camp practices. After veteran Danny Trevathan was placed on injured reserve with a sore knee Sept. 1, Ogletree replaced him with the No. 1 defense—and never relinquished the job, even when Trevathan rejoined the active roster.
Ogletree has emerged as one of the defense's most consistent performers, ranking second on the unit behind Roquan Smith with 59 tackles. The 30-year-old also has registered three tackles-for-loss, three pass breakups and one forced fumble.
Ogletree signed with the Bears after receiving a call from the team while he was in the Chicago area visiting former Rams teammate and current Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn. Ogletree is inspired by Quinn, calling his friend "not only just a great player, but a great human being."
"He's one of the reasons why I do try to keep a positive attitude because of his outlook on life," Ogletree said. "We just talk and just conversate and just keep it real with each other. He's always like, 'Every day you wake up, you should be blessed and thankful that you are able to wake up and go do whatever it is that you want to do.'"
Ogletree has no idea what the future holds; he's just happy to be where he is right now.
"You never know where you're at in your career," he said. "You can be here on the team one day, and the next you're gone, or however it goes, however it shakes out. Wherever you're at it in life, you just try to be in that moment, and enjoy the things that you are blessed with, and just be thankful."