Bushrod perpetual work in progress

They drafted him in part because they identified a specific skill set that matched their blocking scheme. It's the same blocking scheme the Bears will use this season.

"I would agree that this system is good for him," Kromer said. "He had extremely quick feet, which were important."

Kromer utilized Bushrod within the system. He used those quick feet, for instance, to get Bushrod on defenders quickly. He saw Bushrod was adeptkeeping defenders' hands off him, so he worked hard to make that skill stand out.

He also didn't ask Bushrod to do more than he was capable of.

"Every player is his own player," Kromer said. "You need to find out what do well that you can accentuate. Then find out a way to cover up what they don't do well. If you try to treat everybody the same, you'll get nothing out of anyone."

•Bushrod willed himself into an NFL player.

This may be the most significant piece of his development. He set goals and was industrious in figuring out how to achieve them.

"If you are a smart player like he is, you learn and you understand your limitations, what you can and cannot do," Kromer said.

Payton also pointed to Bushrod's intelligence and other intangibles.

"He's a great worker," Payton said. "He's consistent. He's available. Week in, week out, he's playing. As a coach, when you know what you have in a player, his exact strengths and weaknesses, that's a good thing. He epitomizes what we want as far as football IQ, toughness and not being afraid to work."

Bushrod approaches his job like the fourth-round pick from Towson he once was. That is, he takes nothing for granted.

"I know what I struggle with sometimes, and I know I have to work on it," Bushrod said.

Bushrod never has stopped realizing where he came from and how he got to where he is.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei

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