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Stevenson excited to begin assimilation process with Bears

Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson
Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson

Tyrique Stevenson's first NFL practice was a surreal experience for the 22-year-old.

The second-round draft pick, a cornerback from Miami, described Friday's non-contact workout at Bears minicamp in Lake Forest as "fast but amazing."

"Couldn't believe I'm here, so I just went out and took advantage of everything," Stevenson said. "Went out there and got coached by some great coaches, alongside some great guys. I'm just happy to be here."

Stevenson joins the Bears after excelling in college, first at Georgia for two seasons before transferring home to Miami to play with the Hurricanes. The 6-foot, 198-pounder lined up primarily at the nickel position for Georgia before moving outside at Miami.

As a freshman in 2019, he was named Georgia's co-defensive newcomer of the year after recording 13 tackles, one sack and five pass breakups. He followed with 34 tackles and five pass breakups in 2020 before entering the transfer portal. 

As a junior at Miami in 2021, Stevenson compiled a career-high 43 tackles, four pass breakups and his first career interception. Last year as a senior, he registered 25 tackles and set career highs with two interception and seven pass breakups. 

Having joined new football teams at Georgia and Miami with new teammates and coaches, Stevenson understands that the assimilation process takes time.  

"Understanding that it's a marathon, not a race," Stevenson said. "Just understanding that there's guys who've been here who've been working for this opportunity just as I have and understanding that they have knowledge and the game slowed down for them, so they have a couple of steps on me. Just being able to come in and understand that, sit back, be a rookie, learn, but also come in and challenge them, too, to get me better so I could be able to become a starter as well."

The Bears traded up five spots in the second round to draft Stevenson, sending a fifth-round pick to the Jaguars. He is the only player that Ryan Poles has moved up to pick in two drafts as Bears general manager. 

Poles described Stevenson as a "big, physical corner" who "will strike you" and possesses "good ball skills." 

"What stands out about him in coverage, he has a ton of poise," Poles said. "[He] really stays in control through all of his movements and especially when the ball's in the air. So we're excited about him." 

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams feels the same way about the promising rookie. 

"He's big. He can run. He's intelligent. He has instincts," Williams said. "In a nutshell we go, 'Did this guy love football?' And then, 'Does he have instincts, does he have quickness, and does he have strike?' He has all of those. We love the things that he can do in that package in terms of body size, hands, arm length."

Stevenson told reporters that coaches have told him they want him to "learn from the vets, come in with my head down and be a humble guy and just take as much coaching and as much information as I can and become a better rookie—and eventually grow myself and become a better pro."

As a rookie, Stevenson will work with a different coaching staff for a fourth straight year. After playing for head coach Kirby Smart at Georgia in 2019-20, he had two head coaches at Miami in Manny Diaz in 2021 and Mario Cristobal in 2022.

"Me being a part of three different staffs—and two of them at Miami—just gave me the opportunity to learn how to grow and evaluate and always take the message, not the tone, when you are dealing with different coaches in different schemes," Stevenson said.

Bears coaches have made a positive first impression on Stevenson, who described them as "definitely enthusiastic."

"They love their job. They love coaching," Stevenson said. "They love each other in the building, and you can see how they coach. They just want to go out and be able to coach hard and make sure that every player out there is just doing their best."