Bears say Tracy Porter smart enough to play nickel back

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears’ low-risk acquisition of 28-year old cornerback Tracy Porter provides much needed depth at nickel cornerback, a difficult position that requires intelligence to master.

The Washington Redskins were counting on Porter to be their primary nickel back in 2014 until hamstring and shoulder injuries limited the veteran to just three games.

Given a fresh start in Chicago, Porter is reunited with Bears coach John Fox, who coached Porter in Denver for one season (2012).

“I think he’s smart, he knows how to cover, and he’s got excellent ball skills,” Fox said of Porter. “He’s been with a couple teams (Oakland Raiders, Redskins) since I last had him, but I like what I’ve seen so far. We haven’t put him in a bunch because he’s still learning the system. But he’ll pick it up fast. We’re hoping he helps us.”

Can Porter be a nickel back in this system?

“He’s smart enough to do that,” Fox said. “He can play in all three spots on the sub-defenses. So we’ll wait and see how it shakes out.”

Porter is just one option at nickel. Another possibility is for the Bears to bump veteran Tim Jennings inside to cover the slot in their nickel sub-package, and insert Alan Ball or Sherrick McManis to replace Jennings outside. Or perhaps the club takes a hard look at last year’s nickel back, Demontre Hurst, who appeared in 15 games and recorded 35 tackles and one interception.

Porter isn’t a slam dunk candidate to win the job, but his history with Fox and general manager Ryan Pace (New Orleans) makes Porter a veteran to watch heading into training camp – if he can stay healthy.