Roach the "Other" Linebacker

Nick Roach, the Chicago Bears' strong-side linebacker, is being given the first opportunity of his career to be the full-time starter. It should help him playing next to two Pro Bowlers.

Nick Roach is the Chicago Bears' "other" linebacker.

He's the starter who hasn't been to a Pro Bowl, while Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been to 13 between them. This is the ninth year together for Briggs and Urlacher. But Roach has been around the block a time or two as well. He's started 30 games, 27 on the strong side and three in the middle, but he still considers Urlacher and Briggs his mentors.

"Anything you see them do on the field, you try to model yourself after that and you'll be all right," Roach said. "The biggest thing they do is just lead by example."

Even though most of his starts in the past have come when players like Pisa Tinoisamoa, Urlacher and Hunter Hillenmeyer were injured, Roach was referred to as a starter by coach Lovie Smith at the start of camp. The way Roach sees it, that makes him a starter, and the depth chart says so, too.

"You have to go off what the coaches say," Roach said. "So whatever your role is, that's how you have to go at it and work. That's what I'm trying to do."

It adds to Roach's value that he's able to play all three linebacker positions.

"If you've been a backup in our system - because we only keep six active linebackers - pretty much everybody has to know at least more than one position, so if you're around for a couple of years, you catch on. Injuries are going to happen, so guys get shuffled around quite a bit."

Having that Northwestern education should make it easy for Roach to learn multiple positions.

He laughed and said: "Oh right, obviously. Art majors are naturally intellectually advanced."

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