Alec Ogletree's life has changed dramatically over the last month or so. The 29-year-old went from being unemployed to replacing the injured Danny Trevathan as a Bears' starting inside linebacker.
"It's been a journey for sure," said Ogletree, who signed with the Bears Aug. 4. "I've been blessed enough to make it to my ninth year in the league, and it hasn't all been smooth for sure. But I am here now, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be here and get a chance to play."
Ogletree joins the Bears having played in 95 NFL games with 94 starts over eight seasons with the Rams (2013-17), Giants (2018-19) and Jets (2020). He has recorded 679 tackles, 44 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, 12 interceptions—returning four for touchdowns—and 12 forced fumbles.
The Bears contacted Ogletree while he was in the Chicago area visiting former Rams teammate and current Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn.
"I had been training to be ready to play and hopefully get a call," Ogletree said. "But when the call came, it definitely came out of the blue.
"It was definitely perfect timing, I guess I would say. Things are aligning properly I feel like for me and my family. I just try to cherish the opportunity to be in this league because I was on the outside looking in, and you see a lot of guys that struggle on the outside, and for me to be able to have a better opportunity to come back into this league and play and do what I love to do, I just try to take it day-by-day and enjoy the moment of being here with the guys and being able to do what I love."
Ogletree wasted little time making an impact with the Bears, registering six interceptions in his first four practices. After Trevathan was placed on injured reserve due to a sore knee, Ogletree was listed as his replacement with the starting defense on the team’s depth chart.
"I heard this quote one time," Ogletree said. "Something along the lines of, 'Luck is when opportunity presents itself and you capitalize on the opportunity.'
"You're not always going to have the right opportunity to do something, even though you think you should. But when you do have the opportunity, it's what you do with that opportunity while you're there. So like I said, I just tried to take it day-by-day, didn't want to hold anything back. Just tried to come out and be me and capitalize on the opportunity that the Bears gave me."
One thing that hasn't changed over the last month is that Ogletree has continued to stay at Quinn's home. Quinn laughed when asked Thursday whether he's charging Ogletree for rent or making him do chores.
"Nah, that's a great friend of mine," Ogletree said. "Blessed that he got put in this situation, and of course things happened so fast. Blessed to be in my position. We've known each other since I guess '13 so … no need to stay in a hotel when you've got a great friend right down the road with an open bedroom. So nah, as far as the rent and stuff. I mean, he brings me bottled waters."
Injury update: Nose tackle Eddie Goldman did not practice Thursday for a second straight day. Coach Matt Nagy revealed that the six-year veteran tweaked his knee in Monday's workout and is day-to-day.
Before sustaining the injury, Goldman looked like he was in line to see signification action in Sunday night's opener against the Rams. It would be his first regular-season game in 21 months after the 6-3, 325-pounder opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns.
"I thought he was looking pretty good," Nagy said. "I think he's in a good place. Other than [the knee injury], he's been rockin' and rollin' this whole time. Just proud of him for that. The biggest thing for us going into this was trying to figure out where he was conditioning-wise and everything and he did great with that."
In other injury news, outside linebackers Khalil Mack (groin) and Quinn (back), inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder) and receiver Darnell Mooney (back) were limited for a second straight day. Safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. (back) was also limited Thursday after being a full participant Wednesday.
Nagy said that he feels "pretty good" about the players who were limited in practice playing Sunday night against the Rams.
Rookie on the rise: With the season opener looming Sunday night, Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been pleased with the strides that rookie kickoff returner Khalil Herbert has continued to make.
The sixth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech averaged 19.9 yards on eight kickoff returns in the preseason, including 22.7 yards on three returns in the finale against the Titans.
"I think you've seen him progress," Tabor said. "He's catching the ball much better now. I really saw it in the Tennessee game; he's starting to hit it downhill. He can make people miss.
"The other thing I like about him is on contact, he gets extra yards. He starts delivering the ball to the 30-yard line for us, and that's been good. If you're going to start your drive at the 30, you're going to probably lead the league in drive starts. I'm excited for him."
Herbert didn't return kickoffs on a regular basis in college until last season at Virginia Tech, when he averaged 26.9 yards on 16 kickoff returns. With the Bears, the 5-9, 212-pounder has shown a willingness and desire to learn and improve.
"He sits in the front row," Tabor said. "He takes great notes. There's a look about him. It's important to him, I will say that. I might describe something in a meeting and he comes up and says, 'Coach, can you put together a cutup of other players doing that?' So, I did and he does those things and if I see it in practice, I remind him, 'There it is. That's what you were talking about. You just did it.' So now he has a feel for it.'"