Man in the middle
DeCicco gaining valuable experience in OTAs
Filling in for the face of the franchise even on a temporary basis may seem like a daunting task to some. But Dom DeCicco is relishing the opportunity to practice with the Bears’ No. 1 defense at middle linebacker. The second-year pro has been lining up in that spot during OTAs while star Brian Urlacher is being held out for precautionary reasons following the knee injury he suffered in last year’s season finale.
“It’s really invaluable just being out there with the [veteran] guys,” DeCicco said. “It makes you want to know your stuff even more because you don’t want to let anybody down. Playing alongside Lance [Briggs] and Nick [Roach], I’ve learned a lot and they’ve been nothing but help.” The Bears are not concerned about Urlacher being ready to start training camp. Meanwhile, the experience DeCicco is gaining with the No. 1 defense during the offseason program no doubt will greatly benefit his development. “It will definitely help, mainly just knowing what I’m doing and always running to the football but also making sure I know my assignment every time and don’t make any mental mistakes,” he said. One of five undrafted rookies to make the Bears’ 53-man roster last year, DeCicco played in all 16 games, finishing second on the team with 17 special-teams tackles. The University of Pittsburgh product excelled even after the offseason program was cancelled in 2011 due to the NFL lockout. “Losing all of the offseason workouts last year, I think he lost out on some basic fundamentals,” said linebackers coach Bob Babich. “We did move him to middle linebacker part way into training camp. He was playing outside linebacker. So I think this has been really good for him. These reps are quality reps that are just going to help make him better.” DeCicco laughs when he recalls showing up at training camp last summer and finding himself in a meeting room with veteran superstars Urlacher and Briggs. “It was really humbling,” DeCicco said. “At first it was extremely tough because you’re watching them on film and you’re watching yourself and you’re trying to compare yourself to them but you really can’t because they’re that good. It’s tough to get used to that. But it makes you want to get that much better just seeing how good they are and where they’re at and learning from them.” While Babich acknowledges that working side-by-side with Urlacher and Briggs can be intimidating for a rookie, the linebackers coach has been impressed with how DeCicco has approached his job from Day 1.
“He’s been a pro from the first day he arrived here,” Babich said. “Football is very important to him. He’s very attentive in the meetings and he’s doing everything he can within his power to be the best player that he can be.” DeCicco, who is trying to make the same transition as Urlacher from college safety to NFL linebacker, greatly appreciates how his famous teammate has treated him. “He’s been awesome,” DeCicco said. “He’s been great the whole time I’ve been here. Anytime I need something or he sees something I’m doing wrong, he lets me know. Anything I ask him he’s more than willing to talk to me and help me out as much as he can. “To be half the player Brian is would be awesome. He’s just someone to look up to. He’s a great leader. The way he gets respect from everybody is unbelievable. It’s something really admirable.” http://www.chicagobears.com/userfile...ide_052912.jpg
Dom DeCicco finished second on the Bears with 17 special-teams tackles last season.
This is good for DeCicco and good for the Bears. I see a guy there somewhat like "Hilly" who could play at SLB and backup the MLB spot. He may or may not be an answer for the MLB of the future but for now we need a competent backup and he's it.
The thing that I noticed in this article is the 2nd place 17 special teams tackles. Given how the bears have some excellent gunners on ST, that fact gives DeCicco a decent shot at a backup LB slot. I recall how last year he looked a lot like HH in the way he moved when on the field. For #58 (DeCicco) it's probably gonna come down to what he has between his ears. Good Luck to him.
I understand the fact that you don't need a stud playing SLB with Urls and Briggs next to it. However, I think next year it is an ABSOLUTE MUST to bring in a young stud to learn from those two the way Dom talked about. I can only imagine how beneficial it is to be in the tape room and just standing on the same field as those guys as they go through the motions. Hopefully, one of these kids (JT Thomas and Dom, but Hayes to a lesser/more veteran extent) will step it up and make it less of a pressing need, but we will absolutely need a true blue chip stud to step in behind them eventually and I don't see that in-house.
I don't think anyone is ever expecting him to be Urlacher. Physical freaks like him don't come around often. But if he can become another "Hilly", smart, dependable, good tackler I'd say we did pretty good for ourselves by signing his as an UDFA. I think he's a guy with some talent who was overlooked in the draft because he's not a fit for every defense but with the Bears he is.
This is great for the Bears. Worst case we have a great backup. And maybe something even better. This has got to be the best off season I can remember. Lots of great news. Seriously, I can't remember when I've felt so good about an upcoming season. Tice as OC. A power offense in the works. The "D" looks better too. Life is good.
Originally Posted by soulman