Team Player

Second year MLB Hunter Hillenmeyer has one of the toughest roads to crack the starting lineup in the NFL. Backing Brian Urlacher is not a glorious role on a team, but Hillenmeyer isn't complaining and is looking forward to this season.

"So much of last year was a learning experience for me," Hillenmeyer said. "As a new player, there is a lot of information coming at you all at once. It's hard to think and react at the same time. I played OK, but I know that I can do better. Now I am coming back with confidence in my ability. I know the pace is fast, but I am able to keep up with it just fine."

Hillenmeyer played 12 games for Chicago after being signed off the Packers practice squad on Sept. 13. His rookie season was spent primarily as a special teams player, but did sub for Brian Urlacher on a handful of plays at middle linebacker last season. When a head-on collision forced Urlacher to the sideline Hillenmeyer came on and watched Clinton Portis run by him for a 49-yard gain. However that didn't make Hillenmeyer drop his head, he later forced a fumble on special teams.

The 2003 fifth-round draft pick had a solid collegiate career at Vanderbilt. He spent three seasons at OLB before moving inside as a senior. The change proved to be successful as Hillenmeyer led the nation in tackle per game (14) and unassisted tackles per game (9.67).

While the 6-foot-4, 238 pounder, isn't likely to be given a bigger role with the new coaching staff, Hillenmeyer is excited about the new situation at Halas Hall.

"I like the new direction that this team is taking. All of the guys do. I think that every one of us is being reassessed and put into the team where we can be most productive. Nobody should be unhappy about that. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but that's a positive. There is a dynamic here that wasn't around before.

"There have been a lot of changes here at Halas Hall both in player personnel and in the coaching staff. It's exciting to see something like this coming together. We could have a very strong record this year. I can see us doing better every time we play."

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