At 6-foot-2 and 310 pounds, Amsterdam native Josh Beekman isn’t used to taking small steps, but that’s exactly what he’s trying to do as he prepares for his second summer training camp with the Chicago Bears.
Beekman was a member of the
53-man roster as a rookie last season, but he appeared in only one game, against the Green Bay Packers. For the rest of the season, he was used as a practice player, and he honed his skills, just waiting for the chance to impress his coaches.
This season, Beekman thinks he has an excellent chance to become one of the 47 players who dresses for games. In fact, he believes he may have a shot at starting at left guard.
“Every year, your job is on the line in the NFL,” said Beekman, a four-year letter winner at Boston College from 2003-2006. “You’ve got to show the organization and your teammates that you deserve to be on the team. Last year, I was called upon and dressed for special teams, and I even was used a backup on defense when we got some injuries on the defensive line.
“The key is to get more experience and get better one step at a time,” he said. “Last year, I was lucky to have some great veterans in front of me, like Ruben Brown, to show me the ropes. It was a real learning experience for me. Even though there are 53 players on the roster, only 47 can dress. Sometimes, it’s a numbers game. This year, I’m going to try to be the best player I can be.”
“It looks like Josh has a chance to become a starter at left guard,” said Beekman’s agent, Calvin Robinson of Empire Sports Agency. “We think he’s going up against John St. Clair. But he’s been working very hard since last March. He’s been back in Chicago all this time, and he just came back home a few days ago.”
Although he is doing everything he can to improve his strength and his fundamentals, Beekman isn’t trying to rush things.
“The first time through the league, you experience and you learn. One veteran player told me that he didn’t dress for four years, and that’s what happens sometimes. You can only go with the numbers at the time. It’s a business situation. You might need an extra linebacker one week or an extra defensive lineman if there is an injury. It also depends on practices. All the guys keep reminding me that it’s a business. It’s your job to practice and be ready when they need you. You never know when you’re going to be called upon.”
Beekman said his coaches, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and offensive line assistant coach Luke Butkus, have been extremely supportive.
“I’ve gotten some feedback from them. They tell you what you need to know to help you keep your job. They tell you the techniques you need when you’re blocking. But this is different in the NFL. This is no longer high school or college. The coaches give you the tools to be successful, and they instruct you on how and what to work on, like how to use your hands and move your feet. They give you the tools, and I take notes on everything they tell me.
“But it’s all up to me. I try to lock in one one thing I did wrong in practice and correct it so that it doesn’t happen again. The coaching staff is there for you to help you make the 53-man roster, because they want that roster to be the best it can be.”
In order to make himself more valuable, Beekman has been working out at center, along with his natural guard position. He also played three games at center at Boston College, so he’s familiar with the position.
“I will battle for a spot anywhere on the team, whether it be left or right guard, center or even tackle,” he said. “This season, I’m taking a lot of reps at center. You never know. It’s better to know how to play everyone’s position, but the technique for tackles, guards and centers is a little different. When I’m working out at center, I have to make sure everyone is on the same page when I call out the offensive blocking scheme. I’ve also got to call shifts, and I’m supposed to recognize blitz packages. You need to verbalize a lot more when you’re playing center.
“It’s a little differerent at center. Your technique is different, because you have one hand down and the other is snapping ther ball. Each position is unique in its own way, but it’s still the game of football. You still have the general knowledge of how to keep your feet in front of you and how to use your hands correctly. Knowing the little details of each position just helps you out.”
Beekman came to the Bears with outstanding college credentials at Boston College. He became the first Eagle to receive first-team Associated Press All-American honors in 2001, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Jacobs Blocking
Trophy as the most valuable blocker in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2006. He received the Scanlon Trophy, the highest honor bestowed on a BC football player, during his senior season for best exemplifying the ideals of a scholar, athlete, gentleman and friend.
The team’s co-captain as a senior, Beekman was the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice.
But despite being a dominant offensive lineman in college, he still must prove himself as a pro.
The former two-way lineman at Amsterdam High School wants to play a larger role with the Bears this season, and it all starts with training camp next month.
“Every week, you have to prove yourself. You try to give your defense the best look possible in practice when you’re on the scout team. That’s why I’ve spent so much time back in Chicago getting ready for camp. I’ve got to secure my job. I think I’ve gotten stronger, and I have better technique. Hopefully, I’ll get my chance to impress the coaches at training camp next month.”