Camp Chat: S Craig Steltz

S Craig Steltz (Warren Wimmer Photo)

The Chicago Bears had all kinds of problems at both safety positions this past year, prompting the team to select ball-hawking Craig Steltz out of LSU in the fourth round of April's draft. Steltz spent some time with Bear Report after Saturday morning's training camp workout in Bourbonnais.

John Crist: Take us back to the draft process, from the combine to your pro day to selection weekend. Some players find it quite enjoyable, while others think it's positively miserable. How was it for you?

Craig Steltz: It was exciting. It's something that you worked [for] your whole life, ever since you were six years old. You've put in all that work, and finally the day that you've been waiting for your whole life's coming. You don't know what's happening. You never know when your name's going to be called or to what team, but you've got to take it in stride and enjoy it.

JC: Did you have a lot of contact with the Bears organization, at the Senior Bowl or the combine or whatever, before the NFL Draft? Were they one of the teams you were expecting to hear from on the big day?

CS: I had met with them at the combine. I met with a couple other teams, but they seemed the most excited. I had an opportunity to talk to my agent about the Bears. I had a feeling. The Bears, they had a couple picks in the fourth round. And I thought that, "Hey, maybe they could take a safety," and lucky enough it happened.

JC: You had a ton of interceptions in college, which is even more impressive since you were only a full-time starter as a senior. Is picking off passes more about having great coverage skills, or is it more about instincts and being in the right place at the right time?

CS: I started just my senior year. Every day I went to practice, and you take it as if you are the starter. Right now, Mike Brown's been here. This will be his ninth year. He's a solid starter, and you come out here and you just compete and you push and make him better. Back at LSU, you just do that. You compete every day like you're a starter. So when you're time is called, I was lucky enough to be a part of a lot of sub packages. So I might not have been listed as a starter, but I played probably 80 percent of the plays. I had opportunities to be out there with some great teammates and be part of a great scheme and [was] able to make some plays.


S Craig Steltz
Warren Wimmer Photography

JC: If you're a rookie in the NFL, then you've got to earn your paycheck on special teams. How have you been used on the coverage units so far, and is there a particular phase of special teams that you like the most?

CS: Every guy in the secondary, that's where most of your special-teams players are from. Your [corners], your safeties, and your linebackers. You have to be able to come out here and run down kickoff, and do the opposite and turn around and block the same guy. So it's being able to just go out there and compete and push yourself to the limit. It's a little different from college. You move up to the next level. The speed and the athletes pick up, so you've got to get adjusted to that and get used to it.

JC: You had some great fans at LSU, and you also have a tremendous fan base with the Bears. Compare what it was like down in Baton Rouge and how it's been up here in Chicago so far.

CS: I was truly blessed to be able to play at LSU. There's no place like Tiger Stadium. As you're moving to the next level, you don't know what to expect. Some teams, you don't know if they have a great fan base or how that works. But when you're drafted by the Bears... And since I've been here, I'm lucky enough to be drafted by the Bears. We went to fan day, I think it was, in Soldier Field. There was more people there than I've ever seen. And that just shows the support of the Chicago area and how exciting Soldier Field is. And I was sitting in line – I was with Gary Fencik, the safety – and it was maybe 500 people, and I don't know if they were there for me or for him. But it just shows you how guys who played back in 1985, when they won the Super Bowl, it just shows the support they still get and how unbelievable the fan support is.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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