The NFL is one of the most brutal professional sports leagues in the country. With that comes untimely injuries.
Following an injury to Chicago Bears’ linebacker D.J. Williams, the arrow appears to be pointing up for former Gators linebacker Jon Bostic.
Bostic has drawn attention for his illegal hit on Chargers’ receiver Mike Willie, but the former Florida middle linebacker has impressed the Chicago Bears’ coaching staff throughout the preseason.
The 6-foot-1, 246-pound rookie has shown he is a stout box defender who brings power to his tackles and — with good pad level and physical hand-use — can work well in space.
More importantly, Bostic has made the transition from the defensive scheme he played in at Florida to matching speed down the field in Chicago’s Cover-2 shell.
The Bears utilize both the Cover-2 and Tampa-2 philosophies, and Bostic’s role at the Mike linebacker position is paramount to the success of the defense.
Both schemes require the Mike linebacker to be sound versus the pass.
In a standard 4-3, Cover-2 defense, the Mike linebacker will stay underneath the safeties and cover short underneath routes while lending a hand in run support.
In the Tampa-2, the Mike linebacker drops into the hole between the deep safeties, allowing both to hedge outside and more easily take away soft zones behind the cornerbacks and along the sideline.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Bostic showed his eyes can move just as fast as his feet when diagnosing a pass play and reacting.
On 3rd and 2 from the Panthers’ 48-yard line, Bostic manned the underneath zone and jumped an 8-yard in-route intended for tight end Greg Olsen and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown in his league debut.
"After he broke for the touchdown, he told me they put the oxygen mask on him," former Gators safety Josh Evans told the Florida Times Union.
Mix in a jarring hit on Willie in Week 2 of the preseason and it could be difficult for Williams to unseat the rookie for the starting middle linebacker role before the Bears open the season on Sept. 8.
Sturgis wins starting job: Five years after kicker Dan Carpenter won the Dolphins’ kicking job against Jay Feely, Carpenter’s spot has been taken.
Rookie Caleb Sturgis won the training-camp competition for the job on Wednesday. Carpenter was set to make about $2.68 million if he made the team. Miami will save more than $2 million because of the move.
Sturgis, a former Gator, has connected on both of his field goal attempts this preseason, including a 58-yarder against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 16. Sturgis has hit all six of his kickoffs into the end zone through two games.
"Sturgis will be a Hall of Fame kicker," Evans said. "I always make jokes with him, ‘In Sturge We Trust.’"
As a Gator, Sturgis set a school record for field goals, going 70 for 88 over his five-year career, including eight completed attempts from 50 yards and beyond.
Sturgis was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Follow Chuck Kingsbury on Twitter @ChuckKingsbury.