Joniak's Journal: Local Kid Michael Joseph Shows Promise

Jeff Joniak
July 26, 2018 - 5:49 pm

By Jeff Joniak

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Bears are hitting it at training camp. Here are some of my observations.

First Impression

I met Michael Joseph for the first time today. Tremendous kid. Everyone calls him Dubuque. Wears number 21. Plays cornerback. Tall. Six-feet and a half, 187-pounds. Long arms. Runs a 4.5. Engaging personality. And what a story.  If you are a draft junkie, then you know who he is.  Invited to the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine, his improbable journey starts in Southwest suburban Oswego.  Never started a game in high school. Practically begged the University of Dubuque football program to let him play.Walked on after playing intramural flag football. And had a growth spurt. Nine inches since his freshman year of high school. And hit the weights. And three years later finished his Division III career with 15 interceptions and the Cliff Harris Award honoring the nation’s top small school defensive player. 

He went undrafted, but 15 teams pestered him the entire draft weekend, including the Bears and secondary coach Ed Donatell. They signed him. 

Today he intercepted two passes, and nearly a third with his college coaches in from Dubuque watching practice.

“They brought the good luck charm,” joked Joseph. “They may have to come a little more often.” 

Joseph grew up a Bears fan, particularly fond of return great Devin Hester.  He also loved Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher, of course. His first Bears game was two years ago at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve with his father.

“My dad…he looked at me like, 'Do you think you can play here?' I said, 'I believe I can play here.' Next thing you know, I’m a Chicago Bear,” he said.

Joseph is a true blue Bears fan. Period.  During OTA’s last spring, he had his Bears hat he put on every morning before he left the house. He couldn’t leave without it.

“I say that’s like my hardhat. It’s my working man’s hat. I’m just proud to put that 'C' on and just show everybody what I can do.”

Joseph is a hungry, eager player trying to do the unimaginable and earn a roster spot somehow, someway with his hometown Bears.


Second Thought

It was another big day for Memphis rookie Anthony Miller. The second round receiver is just such an explosive route runner. He sticks his foot in the grass, and makes sharp cuts creating separation. His leaping sideline grab today was difficult given the tight coverage of cornerback Marcus Cooper. Like many of his big play catches in college, Miller just doesn’t get denied very often. He is relentless at the ball. 


Third Degree

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky opened team drills with five straight completions to five different receivers.  He also was picked twice by cornerback Prince Amukamara, once on a deflection off Kevin White. 

“Mitch hade a couple interceptions today,” HC Matt Nagy said. “The best part of that was he came back with a completion on the next play. So we’re growing in that process, he’s testing the waters along with the other quarterbacks.”

A leaping deep right corner end-zone catch by TE Adam Shaheen underscored just how athletic and dangerous he is capable of being in the red zone.

“He’s definitely an athletic guy,” said TE Trey Burton. “I’m really excited to see him and his game. Coach (Kevin) Gilbride is going to bring a whole different level of the tight end position to the room, so I’m excited about that.”

Burton feels he can mentor Shaheen. They are locker-mates.  If the has questions, Burton is ready to answer them and relate his experiences. 


Fourth & Short

In 2017, the Bears were in the shotgun formation about half the time. In Matt Nagy’s 2018 Bears offense they are more likely to live in the shotgun. With better receivers spreading the field, look for the average yards/carry for guys like Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in this alignment to escalate. Howard has always carved out bigger chunks running out of the shotgun and should benefit this season. 


Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.