The Chicago Bears signed rookie defensive David Bass just before the start of the regular season. During his career at Missouri Western State, the 6-4, 262-pound player dominated the Division II ranks with 56 tackles for loss and 39.5 sacks. The Oakland Raiders drafted Bass in the seventh round this year but he was cut on the final day of training camp. The Bears picked him up the following Sunday.
Bear Report goes one-on-one with Bass heading into Chicago's Week 3 road tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It's great to be here. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to play for a team like the Chicago Bears.
"Getting drafted by Oakland was exciting, a dream come true for me. But then, when I was cut on that last day, I had to work hard to keep my faith that everything would turn out for the best.
"The Bears called me less than 48 hours after Oakland released me. That was fortunate, as I hadn't been sure whether I should pack up all my stuff and head home to St. Louis, or hang around in the hotel a few days more to find out what would happen.
"I still have no idea how the Bears scouts found me. I certainly didn't come from a program that had any media coverage. My guess is that somebody here happened to see some of my film from Oakland and they liked what I was able to do. But it's still kind of surprising. Think of all the players out there. The Bears happened to find me. I'm incredibly grateful for that.
"Being in Oakland for that short period of time was a good experience overall. I loved the energy in the stadium and the intensity of the team. But once I got to Soldier Field for the first time, I realized how much better it is here in Chicago. I feel that I fit right in. It's been an enjoyable experience so far."
In changing teams, is it difficult to learn a completely new system, or are all NFL teams more or less alike?
"That's an easy answer. It's incredibly difficult to make that adjustment, especially as a rookie. I am still getting accustomed to the NFL in general and the type of play at this level. I'ts much more intense and so much quicker than anything I ran into in college. Now, with the switch of teams, I'm scrambling to catch up. Remember, I never got all the reps that your other rookies had here during Bears training camp this summer. They are slightly ahead of me at this.
"One thing I've always prided myself on is my work ethic and ability to pick things up quickly. I'm studying hard to ease my learning curve. I want to be the best teammate, the best player I can be.
"The vets and the other rookies have been great. They are always available when I have a question on or off the field. They've gone out of their way to make me feel I'm a part of this team. That's something I definitely appreciate."
What do you bring to the team?
"I'm fast and have a good sense of the ball. I have a strong competitive streak. I love to win. I've been playing football for a long time now and I always hoped to make it to this level. A year ago I wasn't sure if being in the NFL was a realistic possibility. Now that I'm here, I'm going to do everything in my power to stay.
"Watching the vets is an education. I've learned a lot about technique from observing what they do. In the meetings we talk strategy and go over the game plan. It's like getting a masters degree in football.
"My first regular season away game is coming up and I can't wait. I have to tell you that traveling in the NFL is a far cry from what we did at Missouri Western. There, a road trip meant a long bus ride. We weren't allowed to fly because the athletic department simply didn't have the funds for that. We'd stay in cheap roadside motels. It was a very basic experience.
"When I traveled with Oakland we flew. We stayed in nice hotels. It was great. And I have to say it was the first time I'd ever been on anything other than a small commuter plane. I was a little disoriented at first, but adjusted quickly.
"The crowd noise at the Steelers game should be amazing. Remember, my college was small. For our games, a big crowd was maybe 3,000-4,000 fans. But what I discovered when I played with Oakland was that its easy to block it all out. Once you are on the field, you are concentrating on the job ahead of you, not the noise. Also, for the defense, crowd noise is never as big a factor as it is for the offense.
"I'm viewing this game as another experience to soak up. I'll be watching how the vets handle things so I understand how to conduct myself on a road trip. Being with the Bears has been such a blessing so far and I appreciate every minute of this. My job is to improve as quickly as I can so I can contribute in a positive way."
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.