Football is a game of opportunities, and it appears as though Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller is intent on making the most of his second chance.
In week 6, Fuller earned an 88.8 grade from Pro Football Focus and a spot on the site’s Team of the Week, which is as surprising as it is impressive. The Ravens picked on Fuller all afternoon and were successful in some early attempts. But Fuller rebounded, allowing just five catches for 43 yards in a game where he was targeted a whopping 15 times. Fuller came up with three broken-up passes and held Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, and Chris Matthews without a reception when he was in coverage.
Like fellow Week 6 standout Adrian Amos, Fuller was an afterthought most of the summer because of his slide down the depth chart.
But Sunday was the sort of game the Bears brass had been expecting from Fuller since he arrived on the scene. Not only has Fuller struggled to play to his strengths and battled through injuries, he has also fought against diminishing support from his coaches. When Fuller was placed on season-ending IR in 2016, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio seemed to question the cornerback’s desire to return to the field after an injury. Less than a year later, Fuller is playing for his job and a future.
Head Coach John Fox seems to like what he sees:
Fox says Kyle Fuller's success stems from his hours of studying opponents on tape: "You're going to get out of it what you put into it."
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 18, 2017
The Bears declined to pick up Fuller’s fifth-year option during the offseason and signed a pair of experienced cornerbacks to start immediately. However, it won’t take much for cornerback to be a position of need again for the Bears. Not only have Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper missed games due to injury, both have missed time on the field while healthy.
Amukamara has played on 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in each of the last two weeks, but played on just 53.5 percent in his first two games coming off a preseason ankle injury. Cooper’s snaps have been on the decline recently, playing 40 in Week 3, 29 in Week 4, and missing Week 5 altogether with back spasms. Cooper was deemed healthy enough to be on the active roster in Sunday’s win, but didn’t play a defensive snap and was limited to six special teams snaps.
It’s a testament to Fuller that he has responded by making the most of his playing time. If his confidence remains and he keeps this up, the Bears might have to entertain the idea of bringing him back.