That did not work out as planned. Briggs got injured and missed seven games. Greene was thrust into Briggs’ position at weak side linebacker, starting four of the seven games Briggs missed, and had to learn under fire.
Greene had trouble adjusting to the speed of the game. He was often caught out of position and missed plays.
So far during training camp and in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Greene says things are slowing down for him.
“I’m seeing stuff quicker. I’m being able to just be a natural football player and just use my instincts to react. The game definitely has slowed down. It’s fun now. I’m not overthinking it.
“The older guys always say that it will slow down once you get a grasp of the playbook and learn how to start studying opponents. Guys say those skills come with age and from the experience of doing it. I feel like from last year to this year, I’ve made a big jump as far as the game slowing down. I’m now able to read and react.”
In the game against the Eagles, Greene recorded two tackles and recovered a fumble. He saw too many mistakes, however.
“There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be corrected,” he said. “But the important thing is we got to be out there playing in full speed. We got turnovers and were having fun. It was good to be back out there and be live.
“I’ve got to play better on my hands. I’ve got to try and get in on more tackles.”
Greene has made an impression on linebackers coach Reggie Herring. “He’s maturing every day as a person,” Herring said. “He’s really having a consistent camp. It’s exciting and it gives you hope to see him grow each day. If he continues on track where he is right now, he has a chance to help us this year and provide some really good depth.”
Briggs, Williams and McClellin look to be starters (though it seems the coaches are bending over backward for McClellin). Bostic appears to be the heir apparent at middle linebacker so that makes four. If the Bears go with six linebackers, that leaves Greene, Senn, Jones and Franklin fighting for the last two spots.
Of course, they could all make the team and contribute on special teams. Greene and Senn both played on special teams, so they could make the team that way.
Jones is an interesting case. He was projected to be a fourth round pick in this year’s draft, but a diluted drug test cost him. His upside could be too tempting to let him go.
Franklin has had a good training camp and has gotten more reps. He still remains a long shot to make the team, but if he continues to play well, he may find his way onto the team.
If Greene continues to settle in and improves even more, he won’t have to worry about just making the team. He could be counted on to be a key contributor.