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Returning starters provide stability in secondary


The following is the eighth of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

The Bears defense boasts continuity in the secondary, returning all four starters in cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara and safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos.

The Bears placed a transition tag on Fuller and then retained him by matching an offer sheet he signed with the rival Packers in March.

"We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years," general manager Ryan Pace said at the time. "We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago."

Fuller had a resurgent 2017 season after missing the entire 2016 campaign following knee surgery. He started all 16 games, recording 68 tackles, two interceptions and a career-high 22 pass breakups.

"It was really just kind of about showing I was healthy and showing what type of player I could really be," Fuller said. "I was just happy to be able to come out and have fun, enjoy it, and be myself, and I think I showed that last year."

Fuller was selected by the Bears with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2014 draft out of Virginia Tech. He has appeared in 48 games with 46 starts over four seasons, registering 196 tackles, eight interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Fuller's 22 pass breakups were tied for the second most by a Bears player since 1991 and his six PBUs in a Week 16 win over the Browns were the most by an NFL player in 2017 and the most by a Bears player since the stat first began to be tracked in 1994.

"Last year I feel I definitely showed the type of player that I knew I was and people with the Bears knew I was, so I was definitely happy to do that," Fuller said. "But I definitely feel like there's always room for improvement. There are things that I feel like I can definitely get better at moving forward, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow and learn and get better."

Amukamara also is back after signing a three-year extension. The veteran instructed his agent to speak only to the Bears because he didn't want to play for any other team—in part because he wanted to continue to pair with Fuller.

"We work pretty well together," Amukamara said. "Kyle's a different type of corner. Kyle likes to play off and he likes to read the quarterback, which made him very successful last year just reading the quarterback and being able to break on passes. My deal is more of an in-your-face press type of corner.

"Kyle's preparation for the game, he studies like a quarterback. Quarterbacks study film before the game all throughout the week. He'll give me tips and stuff like that and we'll help each other out. I feel like just watching him prepare, that just excited me, especially for him being so young."

Amukamara played in 14 games with 12 starts last season in his first year with the Bears, registering 49 tackles, seven passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

Amukamara joined the Bears after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Giants (2011-15) and Jaguars (2016). Prior to arriving in Chicago, he had appeared in 69 games with 57 starts and compiled 310 tackles, seven interceptions, 49 pass breakups, seven tackles-for-loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Jackson will look to build on an impressive rookie season. The 2017 fourth-round draft pick from Alabama started all 16 games, ranking third on the defense with 70 tackles while also producing two interceptions, six pass breakups, a team-high three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

Jackson led the Bears to a 17-3 win over the Panthers by scoring touchdowns on a 75-yard fumble return and a 76-yard interception return. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history to record two defensive TDs of at least 75 yards in a game.

Amos had his best season last year since being selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Penn State. He compiled 67 tackles, one interception that he returned 90 yards for a touchdown, six tackles-for-loss, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Also returning in 2018 are cornerback Sherrick McManis, a top special teams contributor; nickel backs Bryce Callahan and Cre'Von LeBlanc; and safeties Deon Bush, Deiondre' Hall and DeAndre Houston-Carson.