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How Gervon Dexter is already showing Bears he will ‘be force' in NFL

Gervon Dexter's rare ability is already showing up on the back fields at Halas Hall

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears started rebuilding Gervon Dexter from the minute the second-round pick arrived at Halas Hall. That process started with tweaking his stance from the read-and-react technique at Florida to a base designed to gain quick penetration.

The rookie defensive tackle is making progress, but the Bears have preached patience.

Dexter's teammates, however, see what is lurking. They see the flashes and understand the potential. It has already started showing itself during the non-contact offseason program, where Dexter can only showcase his speed and burst but not his strength.

"I think he’s got some really, really strong hands and I think he knows ball," defensive tackle Justin Jones said of Dexter. "I think he knows he’s got a little bit to learn and how to use his size – you know, like every bit of it – but he’s going to be a force in this league. I really do believe that. I haven’t seen anything like him in a very long time, and I don’t want to put anything in a box with him, but the closest person I can see him as is like a leaner Linval Joseph. Just the fact that he’s a big, strong guy who can move. If you’ve ever seen him run in a straight line, and just like run, I’m pretty sure he’s probably beating a lot of people on our team. That’ll surprise you."

Dexter flashed his speed Tuesday during Day 1 of mandatory minicamp when he and Terrell Lewis wrecked the first-string offense's two-minute drill.

The Florida product bookended the drill with sacks in which he quickly got past left guard Teven Jenkins and into the backfield to pressure quarterback Justin Fields.

As someone who faces Dexter daily, Jenkins understands the potential.

“Very good hand usage out of both of them right now," Jenkins said of Dexter and fellow rookie defensive tackle Zacch Pickens. "Those two really know how to set up inside and outside moves. I’m seeing it right now. I’ve been impressed with how they’ve been rushing so far. We’re not even doing power attacks right now.

"Just seeing their speed game, even with how big they are, it’s surprising. When I do in training camp, when we do put the pads on, they are going to be much harder rushers when they can actually start bull rushing.”

Florida co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Sean Spencer coached Dexter during his final season with the Gators. Before arriving in Gainesville, Spencer worked as the defensive line coach for the New York Giants, where he coached Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence has become one of the best three techniques in the NFL, and Spencer sees a similar path for Gervon Dexter in Chicago.

"The thing about Dex is he's like a humanoid, right?" Spencer told NBC Sports Chicago on the Under Center Podcast. "He's 350 pounds -- guys like that don't walk the face of the earth. But Gervon's ability to press and extend is very similar to Dexter's. You can watch Dex and guys like that, they are locked up on blocks, they are able to press and extend, and they are in the gap. That's the stuff that I think Gervon has the ability to do. And because Dex can play all three downs. You talk about being a disruptive three-technique in the NFL, you better be playing on third down. I think Gervon has that type of ability to be like Dex.

"Now, Dex didn't come in the league like that. Give my boy some time over there now."

The Bears saw something special when they "graded the flashes" of Dexter's tape in college. There were a ton of inconsistencies. Some of that is due to the scheme the Gators play, and some of that is due to Dexter's relative youth as a football player. He didn't start playing until his junior season in high school.

But the physical tools and talent are undeniable. They are already starting to show up on the back fields at Halas Hall.

Now, it's about putting it all together so Dexter can go from theoretical game-wrecker to force of nature.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

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