Underrated Commodity

Lake Forest - With Jerry Azumah returning to the lineup in limited action, Mike Green will be able to focus solely on playing safety.

A rash of injuries in the secondary forced Green to move around to fill in as the nickel back as well as playing his normal position of strong safety.

When Mike Brown went down with a season-ending Achilles tear, the Bears were considering moving Green to free safety.

Despite being the elder statesman of the secondary, Green is often overlooked when it comes to the leaders of the defense.

"There's no doubt because Mike Brown was back there," said defensive backs coach Vance Bedford.

Part of the reason Green has always been seen as a second-class citizen is because he was ‘Mr. Irrelevant' as the last player chosen in the 2000 draft. More importantly it's whom he replaced in the secondary.

"The fans and the community loved Tony Parrish so it's hard to kind of follow in his footsteps," Bedford said. "But Mike Green has done so many good things for us here that sometimes it's overlooked."

Green finished second to Brian Urlacher for the team tackle lead in 2002. His 118 stops was the highest total of any defensive back in the NFL. He was tied for second in tackles last season when a groin injury limited him to four more starts the rest of the season.

"He's one of those guys that will quietly finish a game with 9 or 10 tackles," Bedford said. "You wonder what's going on, how did you get those tackles? Well, he made them 15 yards down the field. No he didn't, he made them where he was supposed to make them, to give us a chance to win."

A training camp battle between Bobby Gray and Green for the starting role at strong safety never materialized.

Green had just one career interception coming into this season, but leads the team with two picks through two games. Bedford attributes his improved ball hawk skills to off-season preparation.

"We worked quite a bit in camp with the jug machine just like the receivers use," Bedford said. "The best thing about Coach Smith he has really pushed the idea about turnovers. When the ball is in the air, it's our ball. If a running back has the ball, let's go strip the football. So the mindset is that they need to be the best thieves they can be out there."

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