LAKE FOREST, IL - MAY 12: Safety Brandon Hardin #35 works with cornerback Donovan Warren #36 of the Chicago Bears during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on May 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brandon Hardin missed the entire 2011-2012 season at Oregon State except for the East-West Shrine Game. Now that he's finally hit the field, he's getting the chance to show the coaches what he's able to do at the safety position. And one of the areas Lovie Smith wanted him to work on was picking up more interceptions - he only had one in his NCAA career.
"That's why it was good to see him get one [Friday] in practice," Smith said. "He's a quick learner and we're pretty encouraged."
Hardin so far has picked up time on special teams as well as at safety, even though he played corner during his time at Oregon State.
"The mental aspect of it, there's going to be a learning curve there," Hardin told reporters after Saturday's two-hour non-contact practice. "But I have to learn as fast as I can if I do want to play."
"He really loves special teams," said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. "He was a gunner on their punt team, the first guy down the field on kickoff, the first guy down on punt.
"He made a lot of tackles. He jumped out at you on special teams, so we're not going to have to do a lot as far as changing his mindset to play special teams. He's already there.
Hardin's got the physical skills to play the safety position, but he'll have a bit of transition as he goes - something Chris Conte went through his senior year at Cal.
Do you think Hardin can make the transition successfully? How much time do you think he'll pick up at safety this year in transition?