After Breakout Season, Kyle Fuller Aims For Better

Fuller had seven interceptions and was named an All-Pro in 2018.

Chris Emma
June 19, 2019 - 10:45 am

(670 The Score) Deshea Townsend played 13 years in the NFL before retiring after the 2010 season, so the new Bears defensive backs coach knows the position of cornerback well.

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When Townsend sits down with Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, who's his sixth season in the league, they connect. He sees a player more than capable of also becoming a coach down the road.

"He's a student of the game," Townsend said of Fuller. "When I sit and talk to him, we can have a conversation about football, and that's pretty rare. You have a guy who doesn't just rely on his physical, God-given ability, but he mentally can play the game. That's impressive for a corner to have that. 

"I am all for guys that want to think the play. I believe it. Everybody is physically talented. But the mental part is what separates you. He has that."

Related: 'Recharged' Pagano Has Bears' Early Admiration

While Fuller enjoyed a strong working relationship with former Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, the dynamic with Townsend, 43, will have its own benefits.

Townsend has played against Pro Bowl quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees, each of who is on the Bears' schedule in 2019. Townsend and Fuller are like-minded, considered to be deep thinkers, and Townsend can relate to Fuller like a veteran teammate.

Townsend's arrival in Chicago on new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano's staff comes at a time when Fuller has arrived as an All-Pro player.

"Trying to get better," Fuller said of his own game. "That's really it, trying to get better.

"(Townsend) did it for a long time, so there's a lot we can learn from him."

This is a different kind of offseason for Fuller, and not just because of the coaching changes. It marks the first time since early in his career that he can enjoy personal stability. Two years ago at this time, Fuller faced a battle just to make the Bears' roster. Last offseason, he was slated for free agency, ahead of which the Bears applied the transition tag and then retained him by matching an offer by the Packers.

Fuller has an appreciation for how far he has risen as a player.

"It's a blessing," he said. "You think back to those moments. I feel like a lot of people who reached the points in their careers where they are, they go through stuff like that. They take that and use that to be the best players they can be."

Fuller is done talking about what he accomplished last season, when he recorded seven interceptions as part of the league's top-ranked scoring defense. And he's also over the Bears' worst-to-first turnaround in the NFC North and run to the playoffs.

Fuller has analyzed everything he needed from the 2018 season. Now, he's putting in the work for what's next and focused on the future.

Even in the offseason program, Townsend has already recognized the work ethic that has made Fuller one of the game's best cornerbacks. 

"That's who he is," Townsend said. "He's a student of the game, but he's also physically talented. That just makes it a plus for him."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.