When the Bears signed linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a big free agent contract this offseason, they loved his size, speed and ability to shut down passing lanes in the middle of the field. But the more we heard from GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus the more we learned about how they viewed Edmunds as a leader, and how that may have separated him from the rest of free agency pack.
“I'm very comfortable in that (leadership role,” Edmunds said earlier this week. “I was in that role in Buffalo and nothing's going to change here. I take full responsibility, that's my character. I'm a natural born leader and I know that I'm going to make guys around me better just because of what I'm going to put out there on the field each and every day.”
Eberflus singled out Edmunds as an elite competitor on the defense already, and said the team will be looking for more elite competitors to emerge.
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“We want to make sure that that is going to be a big focus for us because that’s how you win football games,” Eberflus said.
The pads haven’t come on at training camp just yet, so it’s hard to fully evaluate the Edmunds effect on the field right now. However teammates have noticed what Edmunds can bring to the team as a leader already.
“He’s just got a voice,” said Jack Sanborn, one of Edmunds teammates in the linebacker room. “He’s got a voice and he understands that he’s got a voice that everybody listens to and he’s got that competitive kind of fire. Even in OTAs even, and now, he wants to see the defense have some energy, see guys flying around making plays, not always himself but the entire defense. Like I said, he wants to win and it doesn’t matter if it’s the drill, doesn’t matter if it’s whatever.”
The Bears lost two huge leaders in the locker room when Poles traded away both Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn in the middle of last season. Justin Fields remained and Eddie Jackson emerged as a new leader, but others will need to step into that role on offense and defense. On a team with so many new faces that can take time, but it looks like the Bears have already found a new leader with Edmunds.