Chicago Sun-Times

Possibility of Graham to safety shows confidence in Vasher

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natevash.jpg


When Lovie Smith said Sunday that Corey Graham is a potential candidate to become the team's starting free safety, he made it clear the team feels good about its options at right cornerback because this much is sure--the Bears are not going to rob from the cornerback position to fill another need.

There is a reason why cornerbacks get drafted higher and are paid more than safeties--they're more important. Sure, the two in Tampa Two refers to the safeties but even in this scheme they are not more important than the cornerbacks. According to NFL.com, D.J. Moore was the 20th cornerback selected in the draft at No. 119 overall. That's one corner every six picks. In that same span seven safeties were chosen.

Moore, obviously, is one of the options for the team at right cornerback. But the fourth-round pick isn't at the top of the list. The leading candidate--if Graham moves to safety--is veteran Nathan Vasher. It's been assumed that Graham and Vasher will vie for the starting job at right cornerback but Smith said the Bears are intent on getting the four best defensive backs on the field. That could involve a position switch for Graham, who made nine starts last season, eight in place of Vasher and one for Charles Tillman.

"We have a lot of different options,'' Smith said. "[Tillman] is ruled out. But the rest of it, it will work itself out. We're trying to get as many athletes as we can and give ourselves as many options as possible. We're going to be fine.''

Vasher has made just 12 starts since his contract extension in June 2007. Since, he's earned $15 million and while the team recognizes injuries have played a factor in that--the torn groin muscle in 2007 and the hand injury last season--the Bears feel they're owed a return on their investment. Vasher represented the Bears in the Pro Bowl following the 2005 season and is still just 27.

"I feel he will come back strong,'' general manager Jerry Angelo said. "I felt like last year he was ready. During this time last year, during training camp, I thought he did really well. He got off to a poor start of the season in terms of making plays. I don't know what that did to his psyche one way or the other. We just didn't see the same swagger, the same ballhawk that we know and came to love when you talk about Nate.

"Do I feel that he has that? Yes. I don't see any diminishing of his skills and I feel this guy is a great competitor and his back is to the wall. I expect him to come out and give us really good football and we're going to see the guy we paid. I have a lot of confidence in Nate. Saying all that, he's got to go out and do it. He's got to do that and he knows that."

Let's run down the options in the secondary on the roster right now:

Cornerback

Charles Tillman
Nathan Vasher
Corey Graham
Trumaine McBride
D.J. Moore
Zack Bowman
Marcus Hamilton
Rudy Burgess
Woody Turenne

Safety

Kevin Payne
Craig Steltz
Josh Bullocks
Danieal Manning
Corey Graham
Glenn Earl
Al Afalava
Zack Bowman
Dahna Deleston

The Bears had switched Zack Bowman to safety during veteran minicamp in March but that might not be a permanent move. If they're going to move a cornerback to take over at free safety, Graham will be a more likely candidate. Stay tuned.

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27 Comments

Danieal Manning is a Safety again? This is just ridiculous. He clearly doesn't have the instincts for the position but showed real talent as a nickel-corner last season, especially on the Blitz. At this point he is a Kick Returner and nothing else.

Brad, any news yet on whether Derek Pegues will be offered a contract? I think that he would make the best free safety on our roster with his range and incredible ball skills. I'm looking forward to hearing if he get's a contract.

I thought Bowman was moving to FS too. I like the kid Delaston in college but he's a SS, Uconn almost moved him to WLB because he likes to hit.

So when are the Bears going to move Devin Hester to free safety?

Daniel Manning should remain at nickel. It's the only place he's done a decent job. Keep him there. If Vasher can step up, Tilman can stay healthy and return to form, and a decent FS can be found in the rubble left, then great. We should have a better year even if the D line underperforms again. Still, that's a lot of ifs.

Danieal Manning should make the coaching staff think twice about trying to move Graham. Graham was coming along nicely at the CB position last season and if they start moving him around like they did Manning, it could deter his development. I'll still be rooting for Tillman at FS, Graham and Vasher/Moore at CB, Manning at nickel and Payne at SS.

Well lets give kudos to Creighton, he called Graham to Free Safety. Certainly Graham makes sense at free safety, good speed, instincts very good, good tackler etc.

I wonder a little bit about Tillman's shoulders, are they fine after surgery? Tillman is great at corner although last year he did seem a step slower than in past years. I am sure that the worry of his daughter's situation wore on him last year. He will probably come back and be the stellar CB he has been since day 1 with the BEars.

Think about this for a moment, look at the most likely starters for defensive backs. Free Safety Graham, Strong Safety Payne, Nickel Manning (with kick return duty), right corner Vasher with left corner Tillman and the new guy Moore, Bowman and Mc Bride as capable backups at Corner.

That could be one heck of a great defensive backfield.

Now the D is starting to take shape, the linebackers are solid except the SAM position is a little weak. The D line seems to be coming together with the draft and who is already in place. Remember this is a contract year for three defensive ends, they are going to playing the tails off to land a big deal.

The vibe is coming together, the stars are starting to align in the North. Is this the year that the Bears make it to the dance and win it all..

GO BEARS!!!!!

If your going to sign a scrub safety (Bullocks). Why not take a ex probowler and leader like Roy Williams. I'm sure he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

What about derek pegues he is still a candidate, he was a ball hawk in college, and he has a chance being he was on a try-out bases with the bears I kinda want to know if they liked him or not.

The Cowboys released Williams because he is a big time liability in coverage. He is not a guy who the Bears could trust at FS....

You knew the Bears already had an in-house candidate by the way they drafted...I like Bowman,they like Graham.the draft has Questions,but their overall off-season has to be an A-.

I guess the desire for durability might mean lead to the preference for Graham over Bowman at FS. Bowman is obviously the better athlete and probably considered the potentially better CB, but I'd think his potential ball skills warrant a longer look at S.

The Bears need to get a playmaker back in this position and in just one game last year Bowman showed the ability to do that. Graham is a nice player and a solid tackler, but he's not a potential game-changer.

ahhhh....rite you are dali..LOOSER!! (hyu hyu hyu i am soo funy!) but i am gladd you are giving credit were it is due...to ME sence i am ALWAYS right ans i ONLY give FACTS!!! i now ive was the FIRST to say tillman/graham/staley da bear(my best frend!) should get moved to saftie. finely the stoopid bears coaches are catching up. but i cant help how smart ans intelegent i am. i just wish all you other loosers wernt so dumb....maybe you everyoe should start lissening to ME alls teh time sence i am always right ans i only give facts.

but you guys now me old crap-ton just trying to be posativer...

ps dont tell my mommy i was up so late....ill get in trouble! :)

What the heck is wrong with you Crap-ton your posts are just plain senseless, are you so self absorbed with stupid that you continually polute this blog with that inane foolishness? I'm pretty sure you are not that stupid and you think it's funny or you are doing it to get a rise but IT IS NOT FUNNY! Lovie is one of the most hard-headed arrogant people I have ever seen. Since last January when it was mentioned about moving Tillman to safety he got angry and said it would never happen. Well common sense says it should [1] you have three young corners you can develop for the future as Tillman is on the clock now. [2] Tillman is a playmaker who could bring that to table. [3] his football knowledge would get a better view of the offense from the safety spot. [4] can cover the TE's all these reasons make sense, except to Lovie. I remember two all-pro corners who made the transition and became all-pros at safety as well Aeneas Williams and the name escapes me now but he works for NFL network he played for the Steelers and the Ravens.

Does anybody even read Crap-ton's comments? They're definitely not even remotely humorous. As soon as I see his name I quickly page down so I don't have my mind polluted by his idiocy. I wonder why he bothers. In fact, this wondering of mine leads me to believe that he is a mentally handicapped 13-year-old. Perhaps we should just collectively, and minimally, glance at his comments and pity the poor dullard with the worst sense of humor in Chicagoland.

Deputy:

I agree about Lovie being hard headed and I also agree that Tillman would be the best Free Safety. Alas, it appears that Graham has been the chosen one for the free safety position, I do think he will be very good and a play maker but not the type of play maker that Tillman has been over the years.

Please tell me you guys have a lick of sense and realize Crap-ton is actually Creighton's dismal attempt at a witty post.

Peanut is a CB end of story. If there was a comparable CB on the squad then maybe, maybe make that move, but open your freakin eyes there isn't and even if there was I still say he's a CB not a FS. Yes Peanut is a play maker, but moving him to FS would greatly reduce his aforementioned ability. How many chances would he have to strip the ball or intercept a pass when he isn't relied on in man coverage as much. FS gives help over the top or on double teams when needed, blitzes the QB or covers for blitzing CBs. As for point 4, in our system a LB covers the TE or is replaced with a NB to do the job in coverage in obvious passing situations. When we get burned by TEs is when they take advantage of the gap between OLBs and CB, which isn't the responsibility of the FS to begin with!!! Football knowledge would be better used at the FS position????? WOW, that must be why FS is the higher paying and more sought after position. Again why in God's name would you move your best Cover man to a position that would limit his use in coverage. FS's, again in our system, need the range/speed to cover a lot of field and the size to break up passes & beat TE/HB/FB blockers to get to the QB.

Is Lovie stubborn, hell yes, but name me one Head Coach who isn't. They have their system and their way of doing things and they stick to it. That's what HCs are for. The defense will be better this year, if only because Lovie will be calling the plays, and will be able to make adjustments mid-game to opponent offenses.

BEAR DOWN!!!!!!!!

Deputy:

The other guy to make the switch was Rod Woodson, a potential Hall of Fame-er...

As president of the Corey Graham fan club I just want to state that this is another stupid move by Lovie. Here he goes again giving favor to the wrong player. Vasher was awful all year last year and now all is forgotten? Something really stinks here.

Bill,

I am with you on that one. I had Pegues highly rated and couldn't believe he wasn't drafted not even as a return man. I know there are character issues there but the guy has a LOT of talent and if Chicago can land him as a UFA then it's a steal. I had him going in the 2nd (a team reaching for a return man) or the 3rd (as a safety) when I created my big board. I would love to see Chicago take a flyer on a guy like that.

// What's the world coming to? Me and Bill on the same page LOL

Dahli,

First, yes give Creighton his due. I know some people who post regularly bust the guys chops (and Crap-ton\Brando posts are the most ignorant and unfunny thing I've ever read) but the more I read from him the more I am impressed. I don't always agree with the guy but DAMN he's been spot-on all offseason. I like to think of the years I've spent playing and reporting both as being knowledgeable but he's got me beat and I DO NOT give out compliments as all you regulars know.

Everyone else,

Tillman has two bad shoulders so give up the Tillman to FS bit. You cannot risk putting a guy into a position that will not only hurt one position but potentially end the guys career. Give it a rest.

I would like to see Bowman at FS but Graham could be good as well. Graham has instinct, range and size. As I told Bill earlier I'd love to see Chicago sign Pegues but even he's a wildcard. We've seen Graham and Bowman at least has one INCREDIBLE game under his belt. Bullocks gives depth. The rest are "also rans" in my post Kentucky Derby opinion.

I am really excited about this secondary. I think Chicago, despite the lack of early picks, has strengthened this defense. I still want to see a wide receiver step up or us grab one but this team is looking like a force this season. I'm not expecting anything like a Super Bowl but right now we have to be neck-and-neck with Minnesota to take the division or at least a wild card.

With that said, I will be putting together my annual "What they should have done" draft analysis. I'm still not happy with Angelo trading down for LESS but I do see some very interesting prospects that came in the draft. In my breakdown I garauntee Pegues will be a 7th rounder in hindsight.

Good luck to all and if you make it out to camp drop us all a line. I'm thinking a tailgate party this season at camp and maybe we can get Brad to come along. I'll bring the Coronas and Miller Lite you guys bring the brats!

I don't have much of an opinion on the secondary positions, other than I hate that the Bears let Mike Brown go -- they should have talked him into staying on and coaching.

But what's far more important is this:

1. If the Bears don't significantly improve their pass rush, it won't matter one bit who's playing where in the secondary. No one can cover receivers forever, especially with the "new" rules that don't allow hitting receivers after five yards. The pass rush is the most important part of the pass defense, period, and the Bears haven't had one the past two seasons.

2. I agree with another poster: if the Bears can take leads in games so that opponents have to pass more, I think Nathan Vasher will be back to his old self. But if not, we've got a problem at that corner. Tackling is not Vasher's strong point, to put it mildly.

Coach I respectfully disagree. Tillman for the last two years his cover skills have been on the decline but his smarts and playmaking have been on the upswing. The free safety plays lees near scrimmage than the corners, corners also have more run support responsibility. Tillman shoulders stand a better chance for longevity at FS than corner. MrPhat I think you are incorrect the TE is passed from LB to safety or covered by a linebacker not a corner, where did you get that from? And as I stated Tillman is not the top cover corner anymore but still has the range, savy and size to spend at least 3 more productive seasons at free safety as I stated before Aeneas Williams and Rod Woodson made the transition straight to the pro bowl and I believe Tillman would as well. It doesn't take away from another position if these corners are what they believe they are they have a logjam at corner and we could lose a potential good one to keep the likes of Bullocks and Earl and I don't know about you but I don't care for either one. P.S. PhatAz you don't have to be so abrupt this is a friendly debate.

da church you ARE crap-ton/brando so SHADDUP already!!!

Never did I say the Corner covers a Tight End. My abbreviations may to be blame there (I guess), when I wrote NB I meant the Nickelback, and the Nickel would be used to cover the better pass catching tight ends (Gates, Gonzalez, Winslow, Witten etc.) or more likely, the extra receiver in obvious passing downs. The other scenario was if the Corner blitzes then the Free Safety would pick up his cover assignment. That's based on us running a base pack Tampa 2, and is the exact description of what our Free Safeties our required to do. Peanut belongs in the spot he's @, that's my point. Deputy, name one Corner on this squad who has the same or better skill set as Tillman. Then answer me this; which of the 2 positions is more important, and which would you rather have you're best coverage man playing. Logic takes over after that. Free Safety was weak in this draft, but next year has 3-4 above average players will be available. Continue to build the Corner position the way they are now, because Tillman is entering the latter half of his career, and the other corners can make a big impact on Special Teams.

Also, you can have a friendly, yet fiery debate. If you don't come with passion, don't come at all. Now BEAR DOWN!!!!

Hello out there. Nathan Vasher has been hurt. He can out cover any of the DB's in man to man drills. The problem occurred when the Bears let Chris Harris go. Also you guys act like Tillman is good. He is a tackler sometimes but his coverage is awful. Throw it deep and its a penalty for sure. The Chicago DB's couldn't out cover Nathan even if they all had blankets or tarps. Get real fans.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 4, 2009 3:01 PM.

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