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Quick Hits: Blasingame brings versatility to Bears

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It's fitting that another "Jurassic Park" movie is being released in June.

It comes a few months after the Bears addressed the football position that some equate with dinosaurs, signing fullback Khari Blasingame.

The Bears haven't had a true fullback on their roster since Michael Burton in 2018, but they aren't alone. With the proliferation of the passing game over the past decade, several other teams have also phased out the position.

Blasingame is not like most fullbacks of yesteryear, however, who were known primarily for their ability to block.

"He's going to be able to do some things for us outside of the traditional fullback role of just being an elite blocker," said Bears running backs coach David Walker. "He's got some skills. He's a fullback by trade, but I wouldn't consider him an old-school fullback role where he's only going to be a lead blocker. He can handle the ball and do some things."

Blasingame signed with the Bears March 22 after spending his first three NFL seasons with the Titans. He's made a positive first impression on coaches during non-contact practices this spring.

"What he brings to the team is toughness," Walker said. "You don't have to have pads on to just watch and feel him in terms of toughness. That's from a physical and mental standpoint."

Decisive runner: Walker has also liked what he's seen from second-year running back Khalil Herbert, a 2020 sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech.

Herbert exceeded expectations as a rookie last season, especially when he filled in for injured starter David Montgomery. In four games as the Bears' primary ballcarrier from Weeks 5-8, Herbert rushed for 344 yards, the fourth most by an NFL running back during that span. He finished the year running for 433 yards and two touchdowns on 103 carries, catching 14 passes for 96 yards and averaging 24.1 yards on 17 kickoff returns.

"He's kind of shown up and made some good runs and good decisions with the ball, and he's a decisive young man," Walker said. "Some [ballcarriers] try to pick and poke and wait to see what happens. He's very decisive.

"He will just continue to get better, continue to improve. The moment won't ever be too big for him. He's got that kind of makeup. I expect him to be able to go out there, if 'D-Mo' is on the sideline and [Herbert] has to be in the game, he will do a good job as well as he did last year."

Together again: Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko first worked together at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. Getsy was a graduate assistant, while Janocko was the third-string quarterback.

"I was … in the office quite a bit, trying to find my way, to help that team at that time," Janocko said. "Luke was a GA. He was doing a lot of the drawings, so I just kind of tailed around him. We kind of built a relationship and then kept our relationship going."

Reunited with the Bears more than a decade later, Janocko says that Getsy remains the same person he was when they were together at Pitt.

"He's a heck of a leader," Janocko said. "He's really smart. He's a good person, somebody that you're drawn to. Some people draw to Luke because he cares about the people around him and he has a whole bunch of knowledge. He's been to a bunch of different places around great people, so that's who you want to surround yourself with."

Into the fire: Rookies generally have to work their way up to the top of the depth chart. But if it were up to third-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson, second-round picks Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker would already be working with the No. 1 defense.

"[Shoot], I'd throw 'em in the fire if you're asking me," Johnson said. "They're our first two draft picks. I feel like we've got to see what they can do right now. And then I feel like we can kind of know what the attitude and what the vibe is heading into camp. If I was the coach, I wouldn't ease them into it; I would throw them out there."

Gordon, a cornerback from Washington, and Brisker, a safety from Penn State, are both projected to eventually start. Johnson, who was also a second-round pick in 2020, started the first 13 games of his rookie year.

Asked about the key to Gordon experiencing the same immediate success as he did, Johnson said: "Have a short memory. That's big for corner, especially as a rookie corner. You're going to mess up. You're going to have balls coming. You're going to be in uncomfortable situations. But really just keep moving forward. Keep refreshing your mind each and every day you come in. Keep getting better."

Gordon and Brisker should bolster a Bears defense that allowed 31 touchdown passes while recording just eight interceptions in 2021.

"[I'm] excited, just to have some high-level guys come in and be able to contribute," Johnson said. "We had a lot of guys leave our secondary, so we definitely needed some replacements. I feel like that's what they did. That definitely helped the team out."

Check out Tuesday's action from the practice fields as the Bears continue the first week of Organized Team Activities at Halas Hall.

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