"I've noticed a huge difference in my play this year," Frey said today. "I think it gives you an edge to understand what is happening and how things unfold in the NFL. I don't have any of that fear that most rookies have to deal with. I'm working on my keys at corner and at nickel, trying to get better. I see the rookies out there. They're hungry. I have that hunger too. My big advantage is that it's good not to be the new guy trying to learn the system."
But things haven't always gone as planned for the Nevada alum. After a promising training camp, highlighted by an interception of Giants quarterback David Carr to help give the Bears a 20-17 win during the preseason, Frey found himself on the outside looking in last August.
"Getting cut was tough," Frey said. "I felt that I'd been productive but evidently I wasn't showing the coaches what they wanted to see."
He was quickly re-signed as a member of the practice squad. It was then that Frey saw the opportunity to continue his football education.
"It was a blessing in disguise, although I wouldn't have said that at the time," said Frey. "What the practice squad gave me was experience and the opportunity to observe some of the best players in the league in action. I'm not completely certain that I appreciated just how good our secondary is until I had the opportunity to see how they work in game situations."
Frey also found that he enjoyed playing the role of another team's cornerback in the weekly practice sessions.
"That job required that I study film from other teams, and move like other players. I think I picked up some solid pointers during that process."
Conditioning is another aspect of his game that Frey has sought to improve.
"I was in good shape during camp and when I was on the practice squad," Frey said, "but during this offseason I've worked really hard to get where I want to be in terms of strength and agility. I got my body fat down as well. I don't think I've taken more than a day or two off since the end of least season. I've learned that to get something you need to put in the time both on and off the field."
Whether he makes the final 53-man roster this year or has to spend another season on the practice squad, Frey's lifelong love of the Bears will not wane.
"I had dogs named Payton and Bear when I was growing up," he said. "My dad was a huge [Walter] Payton fan and he helped me learn about the team. Lance Briggs was from the same area where I lived so I knew about him. Chicago was the place I wanted to be as a player from very early on. I don't take any of this for granted. I feel blessed to be wearing the blue and orange."
Frey believes his experience last season will lead to him wearing that uniform in Soldier Field on game day.
"I've learned from the best cornerbacks in the league this past season. I've been refining my technique and I'm confident that I'm ready. It's time to put that knowledge into action."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.