By Colby Gable
With the NFL season less than three weeks away, many signed but undrafted free agents are looking to solidify their spot on the 53-man roster before the NFL’s deadline at August 31, including those such as Chicago Bears defensive back Clifton Duck. Like most undrafted rookies tend to experience, securing this position is a challenging uphill process from the very beginning, and the Bears have already had a pretty deeply filled roster on the defensive side before Duck was even on the team. Yet Duck has a clear shot at making the official roster and not having to resort to practice squad contracts or eventually even signing with another team because of some good work in training camp and making plays in preseason games.
Facing Carolina in his first preseason game, Duck finished with six tackles totaling the most of any Chicago player and responded well to being heavily targeted in the second half. Last week versus the Giants, Duck had an interception at the goal line keeping the offense from scoring as well as returning the pass for sixty-two yards after the catch. Plays like the one versus New York are vital not only because of their great impact in the game but because Duck was forced to make a tough read on a pass which, timed improperly, could have resulted in a touchdown instead of a turnover. Subsequently, we can see his play on the field elevating above being simply the scrappy, tough-but-undersized convention, and transitioning into a combination of this methodology with accurate decision making and smart reads in the secondary.
Despite the heavy competition, Duck has placed himself in a good position coming into Week 3 of the preseason versus Indianapolis. As he mentioned in an interview with NBC Chicago:
“I’m forever thankful, that’s why, (Thursday), I hope I showed it that I’m playing as hard as I can, as much as I can to show how grateful I am to them not only to make an NFL team but to show how grateful I am because this is what you dream about. A lot of people don’t make it this far. For them to take that chance and bring me here with this great team, great people in this locker room, coaches, offense, defense, it’s just a lot of great players.”
As the interview mentions, getting enough playing time before the season begins is a platform for Duck to build a case cementing his status on the roster, and with two more games left before Week 1 rolls in, he should have a solid opportunity to show out. Duck will face the Colts on August 24 and the Titans on August 29.