The Evolution of T-REX

Rex Grossman seemed quite pleased with the recent decision by Bears management and coaches to activate backup TE Robert Johnson. <P> Johnson's promotion seemed to be one of the few things that Grossman has smiled about recently.

"Robert's a great guy and a fine player," Grossman said. "I knew about him in college because our schools were in the same conference. He's huge, but with great athletic ability. He has it all speed, size and strength. Robert is a smart player with good instincts for the game. He's multitalented and a very hard worker. I've found him to be impressive both as a blocker and as a receiver. I'm looking forward to seeing him on the field because I think he is really good."

On the other hand it doesn't look like Rex Grossman will see the field anytime soon.

"We certainly recognize the importance of bringing Rex along and while it doesn't always show up on Sunday, throughout the week, he's doing an awful lot of things," said offensive coordinator John Shoop. "We have serious sense of urgency to continue to bring him along and I do think that he's a much improved player now than he was in training camp or even a month ago. We need to continue to do those things, but Chris is our quarterback."

Grossman started 31 of 35 games in three years at Florida, which makes his inactivity even more unsettling.

"It's so tough being on the sidelines," he said. "I'd love to play but I'm resigned to the fact that it's not going to happen right away. However, it's just not in my nature to stand back and to watch others do what I want to be doing."

Grossman did concede that recent one on one training with quarterback coach Greg Olson has been helpful as far as acquiring the nuances of the pro game, but he feels that learning in practice is no substitute for game day experience.

"It was different for me when Kordell went down with that injury. They moved me up to #2 and intensified the work that I was doing. I scrimmaged with the other players much more than I worked alone with the coaches. Having to be on my toes all the time really got my adrenaline going. It was like ‘get ready, get ready, get ready,' and then, ‘no.'"

Grossman realizes that playing opportunities for rookies tend to be few and far between, but that hasn't dampened his desire to lead the Bears offense in the near future.

"I feel that I'm just about as ready as I'll ever be but what are you going to do," he said. "I'm thinking ‘I've worked hard. I know the schemes. Put me in right now and I'm good to go.' But until the coaches decide that I am ready, I'm not going to be doing it."

The talk around Halas Hall is that the young quarterback won't be getting any opportunities until the Bears are mathematically out of the playoff picture. Given the team's recent record, his chance could come sooner than originally anticipated.

"Coming in when your team has no hope of postseason play is sort of frustrating," Grossman said. "There's a big difference for me psychologically. It isn't that I don't want to be out there at the end of the season, but I want to be out there when I feel that I can make a positive impact."

If either Stewart or Chandler happens to go down, then Grossman will find himself pacing the sidelines again, ready to enter the game as a #2.

"You certainly never want another player to get hurt, but unfortunately, that is the way that many rookies get their first chance to play," Grossman said. ‘As a backup the past few weeks, I knew that I had to be ready at all times just in case anything happened to Chris. It gave me a real mental edge at that time. I was so close, but I didn't get in.

While waiting for his chance, Grossman is making himself at home in Chicago and settling in for what he hopes will be a long and a productive stay.

"I just bought a condo," he says. "I'm getting acclimated to the city. The temperature of course is different from what I experienced in Florida, but I am originally from Indiana. Cold weather is not unfamiliar to me."

Has Grossman found some level of contentment while biding his time on the sidelines?

"In many ways I have," he said. "I have the opportunity right now to get accustomed to life as a player in the NFL without too much pressure for immediate results. When I do get the chance to play I won't be running around trying to take care of things that I may not understand yet as a rookie. There are only so many opportunities you get in this league to do something on the field. I don't want to squander any of them."


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