Learning Curve

LAKE FOREST - Nathan Vasher had high expectations when the Bears took him the fourth-round, but his development has to be accelerated because of the number of injuries the team has suffered in the secondary.

"He's way ahead of what I thought he would be to be honest with you," said secondary coach Vance Bedford. "We expect him to be a contributor early. Whether it's on special teams, nickel package, dime package, we're counting on him to be a big part of our defense right now."

R.W. McQuarters is optimistic he'll return from a hamstring pull in time for the season opener on Sept. 12th vs. Detroit. However the standard for recovery has been four to six weeks.

Meaning that with Jerry Azumah out until at least October and McQuarters immediate future up in the air, Vasher went from being the fifth cornerback on the team to possibly starting.

"You never know how things are going to work out," Vasher said. "It's a real physical game and you just try to go out there and take care of yourself and play full speed, so as long as I just stay prepared you never know when you'll be thrust into the fire just like it is now."

Even if the Bears decide to start Todd McMillon ahead of Vasher, the rookie is now the team's nickel back. A position he's familiar with from his days at Texas.

"In college I played on the inside slot as far as the nickel and I'm comfortable there," Vasher said.

Despite picking off 17 passes in college, the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has always had overcome questions about his size.

"It goes back to how well can you play the game and I don't think you can measure that (by a person's size)," Vasher said. "Just as far as going out and making plays and that's something I've been doing my whole career."

Vasher is used to being at a size disadvantage, in fact he practiced against one the best receivers in the nation on a daily basis. Roy Williams was good enough to be the sixth pick in the 2004 draft. He and Vasher had some memorable battles throughout their time as teammates.

"It was really competitive," Vasher said. "I think early on we really didn't like each other as much because we were so competitive out there on the field. He's unbelievable, he's an unbelievable receiver and I look forward to the challenge.

From going one-on-one with Williams, Vasher learned that his quickness would be his biggest asset against bigger receivers.

The two could now face off as opponents in less than two weeks.

"I bet he probably has some new moves right now and there's no telling what he's learned out there in Detroit so I'm looking forward to seeing him," Vasher said.

Another person Vasher is looking forward to seeing in the near future is his mother, Monica. She suffers from bi-polar disorder, which has limited her social activities. Because of a phobia of large crowds she's only been able to see two of her son's games throughout his college career.

"I just try to make sure I come back and tell her about everything that I did during the game," Vasher said. "It's been like that ever since I was in high school through college. Just as long she's okay and I can see her afterwards and tell her how I did. That's the best part for me."

With medication Monica is doing better and plans to attended a Bears game sometime this season. With 61,500 ruckus fans at Soldier Field it might be best if Nathan gets his a mother a luxury suite for the day's activities.

"I'm trying to work on it," he said.

The same can be said for his game on the field.


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