Duke Shelley Reaches Prove-It Moment with Bears Camp

Gene Chamberlain

Last year Bears defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend discussed how rookie Duke Shelley was like a sponge, trying to absorb every bit of knowledge about playing slot cornerback from veteran starter Buster Skrine.

They were around each other so much, Townsend said, "Sometimes I call Duke, Buster and Buster, Duke," Townsend said, adding of Shelley "He's benefiting from that."

Shelley is going to need to show how much be benefited from it because the presence of fifth-round 2020 draft pick Kindle Vildor and possibly even former CFL cornerback Tre Roberson can mean a challenge for his roster spot, let alone worrying about winning the starting spot from Skrine.

Last year Shelley was active for nine of the 16 games and made it onto the field for eight defensive snaps all year without recording a tackle. Shelley got in for three defensive snaps each of the first two weeks when defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was giving plenty of extra snaps to less experienced players as he sought to get a better grasp on his talent cache. Then Shelley didn't play again on defense until the Dec. 5 Cowboys game.

More important for a rookie cornerback was the fact he failed to make an impact on special teams. He was on the field just 53 special teams snaps, or 13%of them. He didn't make a tackle.

The 205th pick of the draft overall last year, Shelley didn't get invited to the combine but did record a 4.51-second 40 at a pro day and the 5-foot-8 1/2 cornerback had a vertical leap of 34 inches.

Shelley made nine tackles and also three special teams tackles during the preseason last year.

The preseason games will be critical to his bid to retain a roster spot amid rough competition.

Duke Shelley at a Glance

Kansas State  CB

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 183

Key Numbers: Shelley made nine tackles in preseason on defense last year.

Roster Chances: 2 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the most.

2020 Projection: Cut victim

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven