Florida is a football program that has a long history of producing great future NFL players. Particularly in the secondary. Since 2000, names like Lito Sheppard, Joe Haden, and Keanu Neal all made names for themselves at the pro level. Expectations were understandably high when the Detroit Lions selected Teez Tabor in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. It wasn’t hard to see why. He had seven interceptions, 20 passes defended, and three defensive touchdowns in his final two years as a Gator.

His instinct and ball skills were impossible to deny. Yet even going into the draft, there were concerns. Tabor had a reputation for being immature, both with his work ethic and a tendency to instigate fights. Even with teammates. Then to make matters worse, he ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. A glaring sign that he might not have the speed necessary to survive at cornerback in the NFL.

Those red flags were soon validated.

Tabor appeared in just 22 games with the Lions, starting five. During that time he failed to record a single interception or pass defense. By the end of training camp in 2019, he was cut. He went on to spend that year on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad. After that, he was out of football for 2020. Most presumed he’d likely played his last NFL down. Then on December 23rd, the Bears signed him.

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Nobody thought much of it at the time. Little more than a late-season addition for depth purposes. Months later, it appears that isn’t entirely the case. The team may have had bigger plans for him than expected. This includes something the Lions didn’t bother to try. A position switch to safety. Something that would’ve made his lack of speed less of an issue. Based on recent reports, Tabor is showing significant results.

Teez Tabor is changing the safety competition

Prior to Saturday’s preseason opener, there were rumblings that Tabor was beginning to stand out more and more during drills. Longtime Bears analyst Tom Thayer singled him out by name. Then once the game itself got going, fans saw #37 around the football a lot. Tabor had four tackles on the afternoon and a really nice pass defense that forced a Dolphins punt. Then for good measure, he intercepted Justin Fields at the very next practice.

It is becoming clear the Bears may have some really tough decisions ahead at the safety position. Most would agree the team already has four spots at the position locked up with Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, and DeAndre Houston-Carson. The question is will they carry a fifth? If so, then it appears to be a two-man race between Teez Tabor and Marqui Christian. Both have stood out far more than anybody else to this point.

This is a really cool story regardless.

Most people left Tabor for dead after he left Detroit in 2019. Just another in a long line of busts produced by that organization. The Bears though weren’t ready to believe that just yet. They gave him a chance to reinvent himself at a new position and it seems he has embraced it wholeheartedly. If he regains that form he had at Florida? He can be a good player for this defense.

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