Hillenmeyer was thrust into starting duty in Week 3, when Brian Urlacher went down with a hamstring injury. He started 11 games last year with 7 coming at middle linebacker and 4 on the strong side. He finished with 90 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
"I think I've come a long way since last off-season," Hillenmeyer said. "Nothing is written in stone yet. This is the first taste that the coaches really get to see the players because we finally have the pads on and are banging around a little bit, so this is where you start to prove your worth."
Although Joe Odom and Marcus Reese are still in the picture at SAM linebacker, Hillenmeyer has a hold on the position. Playing along side two of the better linebackers in NFC puts the focus on Hillenmeyer, which he gladly accepts.
"When you have two great players out there you don't want to be the guy that people are talking about," Hillenmeyer said. "We're trying to get a linebacker corps, we're not trying to get two good linebackers and another player. Right now it's my job to lose so I've got to go out there everyday with the mindset that I'm not going to be a weak link on the linebacking corps. That all three of us are going to be playmakers."
On the Marc
While Keith Belton is currently working with the first team offense at fullback, newly acquired Marc Edwards is busy trying to learn the offense.
One benefit Edwards has is the fact he has worked in similar schemes to what offensive coordinator Ron Turner runs with the Bears.
After eight years in the league, Edwards is in an unfamiliar position of having to compete for a roster spot.
"I was expecting to go to camp with somebody, and when you don't get a call all off-season it's a little depressing," Edwards said. "I kept working out and hoping something would happen and it did and I'm grateful for that. I've got a good opportunity and now it's a matter of taking advantage of it."
Chicago is Edwards' fifth different destination and he's become schooled in business side of the league.
"You can get two rookies for the price of one veteran. That's just the logistics of the NFL, the salary cap and stuff like that," Edwards said.
The 6-foot, 249-pound Edwards suffered a hamstring injury during Monday's practice, which would have kept him out of Tuesday's evening padded practice. He will be reevaluated over night to determine if he will be able to go on Wednesday.
Roberto Garza returned to practice on Tuesday after sitting out Monday because of heat related symptoms. Jerrell Pippens watched practice for the second straight day with a case of turf toe. He could return to the field on Wednesday.
The team will have to wait an extra day before suiting up for their first full padded practice. A torrential rainstorm left Ward Field covered in water, but the Tuesday evening practice was cancelled because of lighting.
The Bears will go twice on Wednesday. An 8:30 am full padded practice will be followed by a 7:00 pm shorts and pads practice at Ward Field.
Fans attending the morning practice should enter through Gate 2. The children's interactive area will be closed due to the storm.