Former Auburn offensive tackle A.J. Greene has a chance to be a contributor to the Chicago Bears offensive line this year. A sizable force at 6-5, 295 pounds, Greene is known for his speed, power, and quick reaction time.
Greene had a very limited collegiate career. He didn't earn the starting spot until his redshirt junior season last year. He appeared in just three starts before suffering a season-ending injury.
Greene was an Anthropology major and hails from Madison, Tenn.
His lack of experience didn't stop Chicago from taking a chance on a player with ideal size for an offensive tackle. During yesterday's OTA practice, Greene took a few reps at right tackle with the first team, filling in for the injured right tackle.
Bear Report talked with Greene about his first offseason in the NFL.
"It's a real thrill to be here, almost surreal really. I've played football since preschool. Football has been my love for many years. I played a little basketball when I was in 8th grade and the first year of high school, but it quickly became apparent that my body is better suited to football than to basketball.
"Walking on the field with the veterans today was quite an experience. You know that it's necessary to move beyond the stage of being dazzled by seeing these players in person, that you've only seen on television, but I do have to admit that it takes a little while to accept that you all are on the same team now.
"The first few days of rookie camp were overwhelming. There's a lot to take in all at once. It's the same situation now that the other players are at Halas Hall. There are so many adjustments to be made by all of us who are new to the team. Clearly, this is not college ball. It's faster and harder and the level of competition is way above what I've seen before.
"What I think is most necessary for me personally is to refine my technique. I'm already working with the position coach on this. J'Marcus Webb has been helping me as well. He's remarkably patient and is helping me use his experience to build my own foundation.
"The playbook is huge. That's intimidating for sure. But I already know what I need to do: study until I know it completely. That is the biggest part of the rookie experience, I believe. You have to do everything just a little harder and just a little better than everybody else to succeed.
"I'm up late at night studying. I come to Halas Hall early. I ask questions in meetings and try to take it all in. It's tiring to be working so hard all of the time but that is what is expected of us at this point in our NFL careers.
"I've been asked what I bring to the team. I think my greatest assets are my size and my feet. I can get off the line quickly and I have a good directional sense. I'm very aggressive and am strong in protection situations.
"I had the opportunity to do some reps with the first team today. How great is that? I certainly hope that is an experience that will come more often as the days go by What I need to do now is to show the coaches that I belong here and that I can make an impact.
"I've been playing for a long time, since I was five years old. That knowledge of the game is an advantage. Once I realize that it's just football, even at this level, and stop being intimidated by the experience, everything should be fine.
"Being from Tennessee, I was a Titans fans growing up. No offense to Bears fans meant by that. Now my entire family is following the Bears. I'm looking forward to learning about the city of Chicago and seeing Soldier Field for the first time. This is a team with a great history and I'm so proud to be part of that now."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.