Bradley Remains Grounded

Lake Forest - It's difficult to get into an NFL starting lineup, but as a rookie, reaching that goal is even harder. Although he's one of three rookies currently in that unique position, Bears WR Mark Bradley doesn't need to worry about success going to his head, not with ‘Mom" just a few steps away in the locker room.

"Mom" that's what I call Moose (veteran WR Muhsin Muhammad)," Bradley laughed. "He's in here checking out my every move. If he thinks for a minute that I'm getting overconfident or stuck up, he'll let me know real fast. It's like having somebody on your back 24 hours a day."

Muhsin Muhammad's interest in Bradley has been one of the pivotal factors in the relative ease of this rookie's transition from the college ranks to starting in the NFL.

"Really, you couldn't have a better mentor than Moose, not just for me, but for all of the young wide receivers. I look at him and I realize that this guy has seen it all. He's played for quite a while. He's been to the Pro Bowl. He's played in the Super Bowl. I'd be crazy not to listen to every word of advice he might have to offer me."

Muhammad's advice has been far reaching, from helping Bradley understand pro defenses.

"We sat here yesterday for an hour or two and watched film and I think it gives you an advantage," Muhammad said. " When you go out on the field, you know exactly how a guy's going top be playing you. When you get to the game you've studied it so much to where you can probably determine what they're going to do before the ball's snapped and that gives you an edge."

Now the veteran is offering fashion tips, as well as coaching him on strike techniques when the two are out bowling.

"Anything and everything that I ask Moose about, he's got an answer, and that's a very good thing," Bradley said. "I know that I can count on him. What's happened since this summer is that we've bonded on the field and away from football as well. I value his advice on a lot more than how to run a route or catch a ball. Moose knows more than I do about life and I'll gladly hear whatever he's willing to share."

Muhammad's advice is often supplemented and reinforced by what Bradley's father, who also is his agent, has to say.

"My dad was in the NFL, and he knows this game," Bradley said. "He brought me up to understand professional football in terms of its demands and expectations. That's why this was never unfamiliar for me. Much of my excitement about football came when I was quite young and my dad was an assistant in the pros. I met the players, I went to the games. It wasn't a real stretch mentally to see myself doing that some day. Coming to the Bears was more of a natural progression for me than it was for many rookies."

The downside of all of this counsel is that Bradley rarely escapes from the game.

"I get home and the phone rings. It's my dad wanting to talk about one play or another. I come to the locker room and there's Moose ready to tell me what he thinks. I have to do well just to keep those two happy."

Bradley is looking forward to the matchup this weekend against the Browns as a way to justify his mentors' confidence in him.

"I think that will be as good a test for me as any" Bradley said. "Their safeties are fast and get to the ball. I'll need to step up my game to get by them. I want to open up the field of play and to take some of their attention away from Moose. The more offensive weapons we show, the better things will be."

Bradley has also been spending increased time working with Kyle Orton.

"Kyle and I, we have great communication which is a very important thing. It's always been that way. We bonded the first day of mini-camp. I know what he's thinking out on the field, and the reverse is true as well. The more we can develop that rhythm, the better off we'll be."

When asked if his success was a surprise, Bradley smiled.

"Well, you could say yes, and no as well. My dad told me I'd be starting early this fall. I didn't believe him at the time. In fact, we had a bet going. He said I'd start and I said ‘no way'. I don't even remember what we bet. Maybe it was a dinner out or something like that, but you can guess how fast he called me to tell me he'd been right all along. Between my father and Moose always watching me, there's no escape."

But it appear Bradley wouldn't have things any other way.

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