Hungry for More

Nathan Vasher, a 2004 fourth-round pick who led the Bears with five interceptions as a rookie, is continuing to show the same propensity for making plays on the ball during off-season practices.

Vasher first displayed his knack for picking off passes at Texas, where he tied a school record with 17 career interceptions.

"It's a lot of preparation and then taking advantage of the opportunity," Vasher said. "Being able to catch the ball and finish, that's what I pride my game on. Being able to even be close to it, that's the tough part. But finishing is probably the easiest."

He'll have more of an opportunity to make big plays as the team's nickel back. With R.W. McQuarters now in Detroit, Vasher has no challengers for the role. After seeing the field on only about a quarter of the defensive snaps, his workload will increase dramatically in his sophomore season.

"I think with more snaps comes more good plays. I feel like whenever I get out there good things will happen," Vasher said.

Vasher is capable of being a dual threat for the Bears. He's also been working with the punt return team. There are a handful of candidates trying to replace R.W. McQuarters, who was among the best in the league over the past two years.

As a Longhorn, Vasher averaged 14.0 yards per punt return and ran back two for touchdowns.

Oddly enough, the biggest challenge for Vasher is setting up for a punt return. He often takes a poor route to the ball, which can lead to him lunging for the ball. However, once he has the ball in his hands there is no one better on the team at making people miss.

"I'm trying to get my skill down to enough of where they feel comfortable with me doing it," Vasher said. "I might be a little unorthodox with it but until I can get it down I don't think it will be a real big problem."

The risk may be worth the reward. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Vasher proved he is a hard target for an opponent to bring down. He averaged 35.4 yards per interception return, including a 71-yard touchdown to seal a victory over San Francisco on Halloween. His 177 return yards were the highest total in the NFL last year and ranked third in franchise history.

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