BOURBONNAIS – Almost everything was the same as usual in Bourbonnais on Wednesday morning.
The sun was shining, nearly the whole town was in attendance at Bears training camp, and head coach Marc Trestman was wearing the same blue shirt, sweatpants and hat. The only shift from the norm was at safety, where rookie Brock Vereen played with the second string and Danny McCray played with the starters.
As expected, Trestman said there’s no reason to read into the switch too much, it was simply done to give McCray an opportunity to prove himself.
“I don’t think you should take any one day and start making decisions on who is playing that position, other than certainly the guys that we all know,” he said. “But the safety position is wide open, and Danny has worked to the extent that he deserves a chance to get some work there.”
McCray was similarly nonchalant about the change, saying, “It’s day five, so the excitement is not really there. I just know I’ve got a good opportunity to go out there and show what I can do.”
Ryan Mundy was alongside McCray with the starters, while Adrian Wilson was with Vereen. None of the four have ever played a snap for the Bears. The only two returning safeties, Craig Steltz and Chris Conte, have been kept out of training camp by injuries.
So while the current situation might indicate that Vereen could be a starter come September, he’s setting his sights much lower.
“I’m not in a position to even question that right now,” Vereen said. “I’m far too young to even worry about starting, not starting, whatever. In my mind, I still need to prove that I’m worthy of being on this team.”
Trestman insisted the switch had nothing to do with anything Vereen has done wrong. He lauded the Minnesota product’s brightness, maturity and sharpness with his assignments, and noted that he’ll be paying close attention to how the 21-year-old handles this situation.
Vereen is focused on learning from his elders. Secondary coach Jon Hoke and safeties coach Chris Harris have been hard on him about communication, while veteran teammates have been preaching anticipation.
Most of the teaching and learning doesn’t even happen on the field, which is why Vereen doesn’t deem the switch from ones to twos for at least a day of practice as a very significant one.
“I think you learn the most in the film room, really,” he said. “Whether you’re with the ones, twos or threes, you need to find out what you did wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
No matter whom he is playing with, Vereen said he is “worthy of making a play.” And while he’s had setbacks like any other rookie, coaches and veterans are there to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.
Vereen is getting more comfortable every day as training camp wears on. The transition from college to the pros has been a tough one, but it’s a challenge that he embraces.
“It’s nonstop, and that’s what we signed up for,” he said. “That’s why we’re paid to be here. But it’s fun. You’ve got to love it.”