Deshea Townsend knows what greatness is supposed to look like. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. Though he was never considered the best himself as a player, the man won two Super Bowls as a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played with the likes of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Men who were the epitome of defensive excellence. So when he offers heavy praise on Kyle Fuller? It means something.
Townsend was hired as the Bears secondary coach back in January. One of the first additions made by new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. By that point he’d developed a strong reputation for his work in Tennessee and New York. There is no question that this cast of players is easily the most talented he’s worked with to day.
“It’s hard to find guys that can go play balls in the air and that are willing to tackle. He takes the ball away. He’s out there every week. He plays against their best receivers. And he’s been doing it a high level.
[Fuller] is a student of the game. When I sit and talk to him, we can have a conversation about football. And that’s really rare. You have a guy who doesn’t rely on his God-given physical ability; he can mentally play the game. And that’s impressive for a corner to have that.”
Kyle Fuller is starting to carve out his legacy in Chicago
What makes stuff like this so great is knowing where Fuller came from. He was a 1st round pick in 2014. Many hoped he was the heir apparent to Charles Tillman. After a disastrous end to his rookie year, he suffered through an inconsistent 2015 before suffering a knee injury at the start of 2016. At that point, people were starting to whisper “bust.”
With his back to the wall in 2017, it seems like Fuller rededicated himself. He delivered one of the better comeback seasons in recent Bears history, earning himself a lucrative new contract in 2018. Rather than rest on his laurels, he went out and grabbed seven interceptions, being the first All-Pro cornerback since…you guessed it…Tillman in 2012.
At 27-years old it looks like the best days are still ahead for Fuller. Despite the rich legacy of defense in Bears history, cornerback is not one of those positions that has been their strongest feature. This means with a bit more time and success, Fuller could establish a legacy as one of the best to ever do it in a Bears uniform.
Townsend, to his credit, can see that and is hoping to nurture it however possible.