Making the Cut: Jeremy Cain

Lake Forest - As backup behind four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and one of the league's best long snappers in Patrick Mannelly, Jeremy Cain could go the entire season without seeing the field. Although the situation could get some players down, Cain is happy for the opportunity to learn from the best.

"I couldn't be more comfortable," Cain said. "This is exactly what I've been working for. I wanted to move up the depth chart this season with the Bears and now I am behind two great players. Naturally, we all hope that neither Brian nor Pat will be going down anytime soon, but I feel confident that I can step in should the need arise."

There are currently 10 linebackers on the roster with the team likely to carry six. Urlacher and fellow starters Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer are the only locks at the position.

Cain is vying for a reserve role and looking to get as many reps as he can in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns.

"As far as practice or a game, nothing can replace repetition," Cain said. "You have to work until your actions are completely instinctual. There's no time to think about what you're going to do. Everything is based on reaction time."

Cain came to the Bears as an undrafted free agent in April of 2004. He spent the bulk of the campaign on the practice squad, but appeared in the final five games of the season.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Cain was a two-time All-American linebacker at the University of Massachusetts and was a Buck Buchanan Award candidate during his junior and senior year. He started 34 of 45 games in college and finished with a fourth all-time in career solo tackles with 252 and was fifth in career total tackles with 363. His uncle Ron played for the Broncos.

"I've been around football pretty much all of my life," Cain said. "Having an uncle who was in the NFL was a tremendous advantage for me. I learned about the pros from the inside out. I think that eased my transition when I left college."

Cain is accustomed to playing on special teams as well as on defense. He long snapped all four years at U Mass.

"Long snapping is something that just came naturally to me," Cain said. "It's a different technique from the usual snap. It takes strength to get the ball back further, and your accuracy has to be perfect. Also, you can't get dizzy when your head is hanging down for extended periods of time."

Cain has found that being viewed as a versatile as well as a durable player has helped move him up the roster. He handled all the team's long snaps against the Bills.

"The good thing about having played both positions in college is that it gave me an edge. Teams are usually looking for somebody who can fulfill more than one role. Not everyone can be Patrick Mannelly and Brian Urlacher who are known as the best in the business.

"Another factor is that I am pretty tough physically. Injuries have never been a problem for me. Teams want a guy in at backup who won't tend to go down himself."

Cain majored in hotel, restaurant and travel; administration while in college but has no plans to pursue at career in that field anytime soon.

"It takes a lot of work to make it to the pros. While it is nice to have something to fall back on, this is where my energies are right now. I think this is going to be a very good year for the Bears. The right pieces and I don't want to miss a minute of the experience."

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