BOURBONNAIS IL - JULY 30: Zack Bowman #35 of the Chicago Bears intercepts a pass intended for Earl Bennett #80 during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30 2010 in Bourbonnais Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I kicked off the ‘5 Bears Most to Prove' series last week with Safety Major Wright and a couple days ago put 4th year offensive lineman Chris Williams at #4. We're back on the defense side of the field as Cornerback Zackary Bowman comes in at #3 in this series. Bowman is arguably the most athletically gifted corner Lovie Smith has had since he got here in 04. He's quick with decent speed, great agility, very good in man coverage, and is a ball-hawk. All of these attributes were definitely on display in 09 where he lead the team with 6 interceptions and 10 pass defenses.
You have to wonder where it all went wrong for Bowman in 2010. Most fans say the Monday Night Packer game, but I go further back all the way to mini-camp that year when Lovie prematurely gave Bowman the LCB spot over veteran Charles Tillman. Lovie had in mind that if Bowman was covering the opposing teams #1 receiver he will have even more opportunities to make plays on the ball. That plan backfired as Bowman was victimized by the league's best receivers, and it hit its breaking point in week 3 where Bowman struggled mightily in zone coverage and displayed poor tackling. He was benched in that game for Tim Jennings and never saw full time duties again that season.
The good news for Bowman is that he's not entrenched in Lovie doghouse, as Lovie came out in the off-season and said that Bowman will have a chance to win his job back against veteran Jennings and last years 5th round rookie Joshua Moore. Out of the 3, Bowman is arguably the better talent; he brings a different element to the Bears CB position with his ability to man up on receivers and make plays on the ball. The problem is that Jennings excels best in zone coverage which is what Lovie and Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli runs a majority of the time. You also have to factor in that Lovie in the past hasn't been afraid to play CB's with limited experience so Joshua Moore is definitely in play for the starting job. Bowman needs to prove to the coaches that he's not a one dimensional CB. He has to improve a lot on zone coverage assignments and needs to show coaches he's a willing tackler. Bowman is a good talent, but talent only takes you so far. This is the year that Bowman needs to prove he's a starting caliber corner in this league.
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