Sweet home Chicago

Growing up in the west suburbs, Bears tight ends coach Rob Boras had a memorable first trip to a Bears game at Soldier Field. "It was Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1980, my 10th birthday," he said.

The game produced a long-lasting memory not only for Boras but Bears and Packers fans alike. It was the Bears' famed 61-7 rout of the Packers. It was the only game Boras got to attend.

"But we watched every Sunday on TV," he said. "I wouldn't miss them. It was a part of our Sunday ritual."

So when the former Glenbard West High School football player and shot putter got the chance to come home this past winter as tight ends coach for Lovie Smith, he couldn't believe his good fortune.

"It was the opportunity or dream of a lifetime," he said.

Boras is now in charge of making sure Desmond Clark, Dustin Lyman and John Gilmore fit into Terry Shea's new offense. It's a task he has been building toward since playing football at DePauw University in Indiana for coach Nick Mourouzis.

"Coach Mourouzis easily had the most influence when I first decided to get into coaching," Boras said of the former Big Ten offensive coordinator. "Football to him was unbelievably exciting and he made it great for his players."

The decision to go into coaching was one Boras' family didn't initially expect.

"It's a private school that people pay $25,000 a year to attend and be turned into doctors and lawyers," Boras said. "It was one of scariest phone calls I've had to make to my parents to tell them I wanted to go into coaching. But my parents couldn't have been more supportive and more excited because they knew it was a passion of mine."

After two years as offensive line coach at DePauw under Mourouzis, Boras went to Texas to do grad assistant work under head coach John Mackovic and was an offensive line assistant one year, tight ends coach in 1995, special assistant in 1996 and tight ends coach and assistant special teams coordinator in 1997.

After compiling that diverse background, he got the head coaching job at Division III Illinois Benedictine in Lisle for one year before being hired to coach for John Robinson as an offensive coach at UNLV.

Boras calls Robinson and Mackovic his other two great coaching influences.

"Coach Mackovic gave me a great opportunity by hiring me as a full-time assistant when I was just 26," Boras said. "And coach Robinson has probably been the biggest influence in my coaching career in my life outside of my parents."

Boras served the former Rams and USC coach as offensive coordinator from 2001-2003 and offensive line coach in 1999-2000. Although UNLV's offense was wide open compared to Robinson's Rams and USC attacks, Boras said it was still run-oriented. UNLV ranked in the top 16 nationally in rushing from 2000-2002 and had 28 individual 100-yard rushing games from seven different players during that stretch.

"Running the ball, to him, is what's still important," Boras said.

Boras thinks he's well prepared to handle tight ends in the Bears' offense.

"I had the experience at Texas of coaching tight ends and it was one of the great times of my career because you get involved in both facets of teh offense when you work with tight ends -- the passing game and running game," he said. "You're working with pass protection as well. You learn more about the perimeter of the offense.

"I think at this juncture of my career this (coaching tight ends) is definitely something I was targeting."

Boras, who is married (Amy) and has three children (Abigail, Jackson, Ainsley), thinks he has the tight ends to make an immediate impact in the new Bears offense even if a downfield threat like Tony Gonzalez or Shannon Sharpe is lacking.

"It's hard to find one body who can do both skills (receiving-blocking) that you want," he said. "So we're going to have to be able to use our pool of talent to get everything done that we need from that position. But to be able to stretch the field vertically is going to be something that's going to be critical for the tight ends for this offense to succeed."

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