Player Spotlight: Muhsin Muhammad

Lake Forest - Muhsin Muhammad was clearly enjoying himself as he walked off the field after Friday morning's session of mini-camp. For the former Carolina Panther, joining the Bears could to be the ticket to the national spotlight that has eluded him thus far.

Muhammad certainly has the credentials to have an immediate impact on the passing game. With 16 touchdowns and 93 receptions last year, the seasoned veteran could be the answer that the Bears offense has been seeking. The two-time Pro Bowl wideout sees no reason why he can't equal or even better his stats during 2005.

"I came here to work, to be a leader of this team and because I have been in football for a while, I fully realize the effort that will be required to reach my goals," Muhammad said. "It's a matter of hard work and desire. That's the combination to insure success. I never taken anything for granted. Nothing is given to you in this league. You have to go after what you hope to achieve."

Muhammad is leaving nothing to chance as he acclimates to life in and around Halas Hall. He's been working long days in the weight room and allocating numerous hours of downtime to memorizing the playbook.

"It's just a matter of preparation," Muhammad said. "I want my body to be in the best possible shape. But football is much more than what goes on when you're out there on the field. There's a lot of classroom time required as well."

"Most of what I've been working on has been related to learning the Bears terminology. That's the hard part. There are a limited number of plays that wide receivers can run, but each team calls the routes by a different name. It's almost a foreign language and something that it's vital to understand as quickly as possible."

Muhammad has also been getting to know Rex Grossman.

"If you want to be a quarterback's go-to-guy, then you and he have to be on the same page. Your communication must be flawless," Muhammad said. "I'm learning about the way Rex handles himself in the pocket. He's fast, agile, and has a strong arm. His mind is always working in fast forward. It's easy to see just how hard it's been for him to be on the sidelines. As far as I can tell, he's more than ready to return to the game."

Muhammad views Grossman's leadership both on and off the field as one of the keys to a successful season.

"Rex tends to give it everything he's got. That's a great example for the rest of the team; I like his work ethic and his overall knowledge. He knows how rough things have been for the offense of this team and he wants to improve things starting right now. I couldn't agree with him more."

Muhammad views his own role with the Bears as that of an unofficial cheerleader and a mentor for a young group of receivers.

"I'm out here as sort of an extra coach," Muhammad said. "I want to get the guys energized by relating to them what I observe on the field. I'll say something like ‘Stop fighting. Stop distracting yourselves.' Everybody here needs to realize that we're working for the same goal. We all wear blue and white. Arguing is distracting and unnecessary. There are a lot of fine players here in Chicago. If we all focus and play to the level of our ability, this team is going to do surprisingly well."

As Muhammad sees things, two players with untapped potential are fellow receivers Justin Gage and Bobby Wade.

"I've looked at quite a bit of game film, and I just can't understand why these guys didn't do better last year. It looked to me as if the opportunity for them to shine just wasn't there. Hopefully that all will change. I'm telling them to go out there and go after the ball. This is a team game and we all should maximize the opportunities. There's plenty of catches, plenty of glory to go around."

It's an approach that Gage appreciates.

"Muhsin had hardly arrived here when he started encouraging us," Gage said. "That kind of surprised me, that he would care enough about us to do that. Moose' is always out there giving advice. He's a natural born leader. We respect his experience and his point of view. But that's not to say that he's all work. Moose is a bright guy with a good sense of humor. He helps lighten the mood while he's getting us to work harder."

There's a long road ahead for the Bears offense, which ranked dead last in multiple categories last season, but it's one that Muhammad seems more than willing to travel.

"I've seen a lot of things here already that have surprised me. The members of this team have the skills and the work ethic. They are more than willing to put in the time to get the job done. If we can all get in sync sooner rather than later, I think there will be real changes in a positive direction this fall. Success is long overdue here, and I want to do what I can to turn things around."


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