Moore in the Hunt for a Reserve Role

The Chicago Bears are set atop the depth chart at cornerback, but the backup positions are really up for grabs. Rookie Joshua Moore had a good debut during rookie minicamp and will be in the hunt.

Fifth-round draft pick Joshua Moore, a 5-11, 188-pound cornerback, agreed to a four-year contract Tuesday.

At this weekend's full-team minicamp, which begins Friday, Moore will be competing for a backup spot behind starters Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman, along with returning corners Corey Graham, Woodny Turenne and D.J. Moore, plus street free agent Tim Jennings, a former starter with the Colts. Turenne was an undrafted free agent last year, while Moore was a fourth-round pick in 2009.

Joshua Moore is considered a good cover corner, but red flags were raised when he bench-pressed 225 pounds just two times at the Scouting Combine.

"He's willing, but he needs to be a more physical tackler," Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said. "He's very aware of that situation, what he needs to do in that area. This is a man's league. You're going against 28- and 29-year-olds. You're going against men, so you better be strong. He knows that, and he can get better. Does he have to be the strongest guy on the team? No, but he's got to be stronger for his position."

CB Joshua Moore
Warren Wimmer Photography

In his three years at Kansas State, Moore played in all 37 games and started each of the final 24 over his last two seasons. He had career totals of 175 tackles, six interceptions, 34 passes defended, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Last season, he was honorable mention All-Big 12 when he defended 13 passes and was second on the team with 64 tackles.

Moore realizes his lack of strength is a weakness that has to be corrected if he's to approach the same kind of success in the NFL.

"Right after the draft, I came in knowing my strength was one of the biggest problems I had," he said at rookie minicamp earlier this month. "I feel that I have the athletic ability and I have the size, so strength was one of the biggest question marks on me. Since I did those two reps at the combine, I put that behind me and I'll be moving forward from here. Hopefully this summer, I can work on getting stronger with the Bears staff and they'll make me a better football player."

The Bears made it three draft-pick signings in four days when fourth-round defensive end Corey Wootton agreed to a four-year contract Wednesday that is expected to be worth $2.3 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.

Wootton, the 109th-overall selection, is expected to contribute in a rotation at defensive end that will have Julius Peppers starting at one end and Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije competing for the starting job at the other end. Wootton started 49 of 53 games at Northwestern, with 156 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 38 tackles for losses, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

In 2008, he was first-team All-Big Ten when he had 10 sacks before suffering torn knee ligaments in the Alamo Bowl. He rushed his rehab to get back on the field last season but was never at 100 percent, although he is expected to be at full speed well before the start of training camp on July 30.

Wootton was the third of the Bears' five draft picks who have agreed to terms. Offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb (seventh round) signed Sunday, and Moore (fifth round) signed Monday. Sixth-round quarterback Dan LeFevour made it four when he signed Thursday. Only third-round safety Major Wright remains unsigned among the Bears' 2010 draft picks. ...

Restricted free agent safety Danieal Manning signed his one-year tender offer of $1.176 million Wednesday.

Manning, the last of the Bears' unrestricted free agents to agree to terms, was unhappy that he was tendered at the original-round level, and he skipped the first three weeks of voluntary team workouts in protest.

He has started 40 games in four years with the Bears, including 37 at free safety, but he will be competing for a starting job this season at a crowded position. In 2008, he led the NFL with a 29.7-yard kickoff-return average. Manning's 11 kickoff returns of 40-plus yards over the last two seasons are tops in the NFL. ...

Backup quarterback Brett Basanez was waived Wednesday. The native of Arlington Heights spent the first 16 weeks of last season on the on the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster for the final contest but did not play.

Basanez originally entered the NFL with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent out of Northwestern in 2006. But he became dispensable when the Bears drafted LeFevour in the sixth round. LeFevour also played his prep football in the Chicago suburbs.

"They're both pretty bright guys. You do see some differences, though, between juniors and seniors when you go to work guys out. It's the maturity level, that type of thing. But from a be-able-to-learn standpoint, you don't notice it. They both do a nice job in the classroom so far." – Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke on third-round safety Major Wright and fifth-round cornerback Joshua Moore, who both left school with a year of eligibility remaining.

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