Haynes Uncertain of Future

The defensive line is arguably the deepest area on the roster, which has Michael Haynes wondering what his role will be with the Bears this season. The former first round pick admits he could be on borrowed time in Chicago.

The biggest surprise this off-season may not be any move the Bears made or what players skipped a voluntary workout. It very well could be that Haynes is still with the team.

Haynes quietly asked to be traded in the off-season, but the Bears didn't receive an offer worth giving up on the 14th overall pick in the 2003 draft. Since coming to Chicago, Haynes has struggled to find a niche.

Haynes was taken out of Penn State to play defensive end in a scheme that emphasized size and power up front. After his rookie season, Haynes saw the philosophy move toward speed when Lovie Smith came on as head coach.

The team traded for Adewale Ogunleye before the start of the 2004 campaign, which left Haynes in a reserve role. With limited reps, he came up with two sacks and an interception for a touchdown.

Looking to improve his standing with the coaches, Haynes dropped down to 268 pounds. The lighter version didn't equate to more game action. He appeared in just 11 games last season and was inactive in four of the final seven contests, including the playoff game against Carolina.

The lack of playing time resulted in Haynes openly questioning his future with the organization. When the team failed to complete a trade or release the four-year veteran, he debated showing up for off-season workouts. Ultimately he decided to keep quiet and go about his work in hopes it would payoff, even if it might not be in Chicago.

"I haven't missed a workout. I've been here everyday," Haynes said. "I'm here working out even though the coaches really don't talk to me, but that's OK."

Haynes is near his college playing weight, but even at 280 pounds he's still a light defensive tackle. He's currently working in the nickel package with Ogunleye, DE Alex Brown and DT Tommie Harris.

"Some people act like I'm out of shape, but I was 285 when I came out of college," Haynes said. "When we were conditioning this off-season I was running with the ends, so don't act like ‘oh he's put on 10 pounds and now he's slow.'

"It's not rocket science, as far as the techniques I can pick them up. It's just I need more repetitions at it."

With the Bears taking DT Dusty Dvoracek and DE Mark Anderson in the third and fifth rounds respectively, Haynes realizes he'll have to perform at a high level just to make the team.

"All the sudden the house is getting pretty full," Haynes said. "I know unless I produce then they're not going to keep me. That means in the (preseason) games I'll probably need about six sacks."

There's major doubt whether Haynes will ever make to Bourbonnais.

"I'm always going to have something in the back of my mind," Haynes said. "What are they really up to because no one is saying a whole lot."

Only time will tell.


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