System Conducive to Quick Study

Lake Forest - A steep price was paid for last week's victory against the Packers with Mike Brown, Charles Tillman and Alfonso Boone have been added to the already long list of injured starters. Always an optimist, Michael Haynes tries to see the positive in a troubling situation.

"What else can you do? It's something that happened, and now we need to get on with things," Haynes said. "Nobody would have chosen this scenario. You never want to face a division opponent with Alfonso Boone, Mike Brown, and Charles Tillman out. It's time for the younger players to step up and give the team the level of play that will be necessary against Minnesota."

Looking back as a second year player, Haynes feels that this year's crop of rookies has enjoyed a much more positive atmosphere than he experienced at Halas Hall.

"It was never much of a secret to any of us that Greg Blache didn't like rookies" Haynes said. "He tolerated us only when necessary. We understood that we were to stay quiet and keep out of everybody's way. Most of us felt pretty intimidated. That's definitely not the way to encourage your newest players."

As Haynes sees it, Ron Rivera's system is the mirror image of Greg Blache's approach.

"Things are so much better here now. Of course any new player is going to be somewhat hesitant to voice his opinion in a meeting or to make a mistake on the field," Haynes said. "But from what I can tell, rookies this season have been encouraged to be much more vocal. It's a relaxed situation and one that makes learning that much easier."

Terry Johnson will be starting in place of an injured Alfonso Boone and line up next to fellow rookie Tommie Harris.

"Tank and Tommie, they're fine players and real characters," Haynes said. "I know they were exceptionally good in college but you can definitely see rookie mistakes from them every once in a while. They tend to think too much before they move. That's to be expected. Playing on instinct takes time to develop. We try to help them along and accelerate their learning process."

When asked what's the most important skill for a defensive lineman, Haynes answered with one word: communication.

"Things can change quickly during a game," Haynes said. "The newer players need to listen to the defensive captain. Brian Urlacher and Mike Brown are very strong presences. With Mike down, Tommie and Tank will need to be paying close attention to what Brian is saying. Adjustments must be made. If you're not aware of the what's going on every second, you can be hung out to dry."

Controlling Daunte Culpepper will come down to defensive technique.

"Daunte is a huge player who likes to hold on to the football. He's strong and he's tough. He's mobile but not as quick as Favre. Culpepper wants the time to throw deep down field," Haynes said. "The rookies will probably try to knock him down for a sack. A better approach is for them to wrap up Culpepper and let the rest of our line come over to help them out. That's what we've been talking about in practice this week."

There will be increased pressure on the Bears defensive line to get to Culpepper because the secondary is suddenly inexperienced.

"Todd Johnson and Nathan Vasher are relatively new but they have tremendous potential. Vasher is a rookie and although Johnson is a second year player, he was out most of last season with a broken jaw. It's going to be a tough learning curve for them, but I think they will understand how things work pretty fast. Having Bobby Gray in there will be a tremendous help. Bobby knows how to play. He's really coming into his own this year."

While the secondary may be young, they'll be counted on to hold their own against the Vikings.

"This is the National Football League. The players all know what's expected of them," Haynes said. "I would hope that the new guys would understand that this is their big opportunity to shine. I think they will raise their level of play and get the job done."

Bear Report Top Stories