Rookie Diary: Stephen Larsen

Undrafted free agent Stephen Larsen has had a chance to learn from the best in the league over the past month. From his vantage point behind Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs the experience is even more challenging than he'd ever imagined it would be.

Although the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder out of San Diego State is a long shot, he feels confident in his ability to make the team. Larsen gives his perspective on life as a Bears rookie:

I'm really excited to be here. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. What young player wouldn't welcome the chance to work with Brian Urlacher? Having one of the top players in all of professional football at the same position as me is intimidating.

Who hasn't heard the name Urlacher more than a few times? So yes, I will admit to being pretty nervous coming in. But once I met Brian, any misgivings I'd had disappeared. He's a real nice guy, completely down to earth. His goal is to make the Bears a better team and to reach that, he'll help in any way he can, even for an undrafted free agent like myself.

Hunter Hillenmeyer has also been incredibly helpful the past few weeks. Hunter remembers what it was like when he first came here and is making transition from college smooth. Having people you can go to when you have a question makes a difference.

I know there hasn't been any press on me before so I am an unknown factor. Let me introduce myself. I am from Chandler, Arizona a suburb just outside Phoenix. I went to Desert Vista High School then attended San Diego State.

But because of the climate I come from, don't assume that I'm just a warm weather type of player because I'm not. My family lived in Utah for a time, so the cold has never been a problem for me. Still I must admit that one day during mini-camp I had second thoughts after the hail pelted us all during morning practice.

I'm a sturdy guy and I think that my body type will be a good fit for the Bears. Speed is really important in this system. For a strong guy I still have the agility needed to get in position. I have a good work ethic and am not afraid to get in the weight room and work out as much as they want me to.

I thought that coming into the pros would be more of a dramatic transition than it has proved to be so far. It isn't really that different from college. But of course it hasn't been game time yet. Yes, the speed of the practices is much faster, but the plays seem somewhat familiar. Things are more complex on this level, but they aren't rocket science. The playbook can be daunting, it's pretty thick and very detailed.

The best way to learn the fine points of the LB position is to go out there on the field and just do it. Classroom sessions provide a base, but nothing is as good as the reps on the field.

There seems to be an optimistic feeling on this team, which is encouraging. Everybody here wants to do well and to succeed. The coaches are accessible to the players and do what they can to help us out. The training program is excellent and should give all of us a real advantage come fall.

All of the rookies are really looking forward to the beginning of training camp because that's when things get serious. You can't really get a full sense of what it means to be a pro until the pads come on and hitting starts. I know that people say ‘be careful what you wish for' as camp can be pretty tough, but that's what I'm here for so bring it on.

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