Player Diary: Nathan Vasher

When Nathan Vasher picked off a pass late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against the 49ers,he made what appeared to have been a rookie mistake. <P> Instead of heading for the sidelines on the Bears portion of the field after the whistle, he ran instead right for the 49ers bench. Called for a penalty, Vasher then returned to the Bears sidelines. <P> Was the miscue due to the rookie's unfamiliarity with Soldier Field? Vasher tells Bear Report the inside story:

Nathan Vasher Diary

OK, OK I know. I went out of bounds and headed for the wrong bench. But maybe that's the way I wanted it to look. All I'll admit to is that I have the ball, my first every NFL interception, sitting at the front of my trophy case. I went after it as soon as the play was dead. You think that I was going to let one of the 49ers or a ref do something with it? No way. I made the play. I wanted the ball. Case closed.

My coaches weren't thrilled about the penalty part of things so you can imagine how happy I am that we went on to win that game. It was exciting to be there in the right place at the right time and have that play come my way. I think that it ended up on the San Francisco 36. If Pickett had completed the pass, it would have been a lot further down field and we were only ahead by 7.

I went back in after that series and was able to break up another play, an incomplete pass that wound up on the Bears 34. You can be sure that I was working real hard to do good things as the game ended. I didn't want to hear later that my search for that ball wound up losing the game.

So, all in all, things are going well for me. I am learning just as fast as I can. Some of the veterans have been going around to the new guys and telling us ‘hey, you don't have the luxury of being a rookie here any more. We need players who know what they are doing. So if you are at all uncertain, you'd better get up to speed right now.'

That kind of talk goes a long way. We listen to what the players have to tell us. You want to be part of the team, giving it your all. You never want to be viewed as somebody who doesn't know his job or who isn't giving a complete effort.

Training camp went well, I think. It was a big adjustment for us with so much to learn in a concentrated period of time. We spent so many hours in the classroom, in the weight training area, and in actual practice. There really wasn't time to catch your breath or think just how tired you were getting to be.

It's a rite of passage, something that everyone in the NFL must go through. I'm happy that we accomplished what we set out to do, which is to learn the plays and stay healthy. I feel that I have a much better feel for things and am able to keep up with the pace of the game now. Speed and reaction time are two of the things that I have been concentrating on.

I am also much more conscious of how play unfolds at this level and how to keep up with the ball and the receiver. You never want to let either of them get far away from you. Peanut and R.W. have been good at giving tips on how to succeed at this position. They certainly know more about things than I do. I pay close attention to how they do their jobs.

There has been a lot of upheaval on the team during the past few days with the Marty Booker trade Saturday night. A lot of the older players were pretty upset and I guess I can see why. You never want to have a team leader be traded away.

Book is a fine person and a great player. He was a role model for all of us. His patience with the rookies is something I'll always remember with gratitude. I'm sure he'll be successful in Miami but I hope that in his heart, he'll always be a Bear. That is how I want to remember him.

But moving on, we have a major addition to the DL in Adewale Ogunleye. He is someone who I think will raise the level of play of everyone on this side of the ball. I haven't met him yet as he just arrived at Halas Hall this afternoon, but I've heard the talk. The players and coaches all seem excited about this and feel it gives us a much stronger team. Winning games is the ultimate goal here and Adewale could be the spark that we need.

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