Antrel Rolle grinding through a season-long ankle injury

Bears veteran safety Antrel Rolle says he'll likely have to play through his ankle injury the entire season.

The Chicago Bears pressed the reset button last week, heading home to see family and friends, or returning to school to see homecoming games. For veteran safety Antrel Rolle – who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Bears 22-20 win over the Raiders in Week 4, and missed the two subsequent games – it was a chance to rest and recover from injury.

“I’m coming back day by day,” Rolle said today. “As far as how I feel when playing now, it’s a matter of how much pain I can tolerate. It’s been bothering me more or less all season long. I’m still grinding, still working trying to get back to 100 percent. It’s going to be a constant grind for the rest of the year.”

Recovering from a damaged ankle is nothing new to Rolle, who sustained a similar injury in 2009 when playing for the Arizona Cardinals.

“I know very well the process of getting back on the field and feeling healthy, as I’ve been through it before,” said Rolle. “It’s a matter of overworking yourself, of pushing yourself to the limit. You never want to take things easy.”

For Rolle the bye week came at the perfect time, giving him the opportunity to relax without game-day pressure. The veteran safety’s overall health is a matter of much more than casual concern as the Bears head into a home game against a strong Minnesota Vikings offense this weekend. After watching the game against the Lions slip away in Week 6, Rolle is particularly focused on getting a home-field win against a division opponent.

“It’s important to us to come out on top. It’s a division game and that’s always important,” he said. “This won’t be any walk in the park. You’ve got much more to watch for as a defense in this game than Adrian Peterson. Teddy Bridgewater has been playing really good. He looks extremely comfortable in the pocket. You have Cordarrelle Patterson lining up at wide receiver. AP is back now but the Vikings have also developed a diversified offense. They have a lot of weapons and that creates an all-around challenge.”

Although Rolle is taking a cautious approach when assessing just how much last week’s break helped the team as a whole, he does believe it was beneficial.

“We have a bunch of young guys here always trying to get better,” he said. “Maybe this gave them the chance to sit back a bit and reassess how far they have come, how far they still need to go. It’s a work in progress for sure.”

As for the development of rookie safeties Harold Jones-Quartey and Adrian Amos, Rolle said he's been encouraged by their work ethic and effort on the field.

“There’s no room for error at this point,” he said. “That’s why we are all trying to push ourselves. These guys are still learning and they are picking things up very fast. Last game we dug a big hole for ourselves and it’s up to us to remedy that. We’ve watched the film and we know what to do.”

Reviving the defense could take a bit more effort this week following the abrupt departure of veteran defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff, who was cut after a blow up at Halas Hall last week.

“I don’t have anything specific to say about what happened last week, but I will say that we are well prepared to play,” Rolle said. “The philosophy here is next man up. I know that sounds like a cliche but its true. During a season guys are going to leave, new guys are going to come in. You adjust to that, you come to expect that. It doesn’t matter if you are a starter or a backup guy. You never know what will happen so everyone is told to prepare as a starter. We work hard to keep the chemistry and make plays.”

And will Rolle himself be a starter on Sunday?

“You know, I never say that for sure this far ahead. It’s certainly my plan to be. I’m working. I’m healing. Sunday is often my turning point. I wake up feeling good and I’m ready to go. That’s certainly my plan for this coming weekend. I want to be able to get out there and do my job.”

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