Camp Chat: FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo

The Bears needed a fullback after J.D. Runnels went down with a knee injury, and veteran Obafemi Ayanbadejo was at the top of the list. Ayanbadejo spent time with BearReport.com after Friday's morning session and talked about banging heads with his brother Brendon, the Anquan Boldin/Larry Fitzgerald combination, and the differences between an offensive play and a special teams play.

John Crist: I noticed today that you and your brother Brendon Ayanbadejo seem to find each other on special teams plays. Is that something we can expect to see all camp long?

Obafemi Ayanbadejo: We do similar things. We play similar positions in the interior on the front line on kickoff return. I can play guard or tackle, he can play guard or tackle on punt. We both like to play the interior on kickoff cover. So when we're working against each other, usually he's in the starting group. I'm new here. I'm working my way up, but I usually end up working against him a lot. And I think we understand. We're veterans. We understand the tempo. We're brothers, you know what I'm saying. We're not going to try to hurt each other, but we're going to give each other some good work. That's how we do it.

JC: It's only been a week so far, but what has been different about training camp with the Bears this year as opposed to training camp with the Cardinals last year?

OA: Well, I think that it's a different approach as far as where this team is at and where the Cardinals were at a year ago. This team was coming off another good season. [In] Arizona, we came off a struggling season, and I think that the camp kind of reflects where we were both at. Lovie [Smith] takes a lot of care and time with the guys. The guys know the system. They're not implementing anything new. It's basically the new guys and the young guys learning how the Bears do things. In Arizona, it seemed like we were always changing something or adding something. It was a new coordinator. Everybody had a lot of learning to do, which made practices hard, arduous, long. Any adjective you could use to describe a difficult practice, we had that in Arizona.

JC: Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are arguably the best receiver tandem in the entire NFL. Is it too much to ask for the wideouts on this team to be that good?

OA: I think that as a competitor and as players, you look at Berrian and you look at Muhammad and you look at those two players, and you're like, "Those two guys are very talented." And the receiving corps goes deeper than that with [Mark] Bradley and Rashied [Davis]. They've got a solid receiving corps here. I think the thing about Arizona is they have two of the best guys in the NFL on the same team. What makes this a great game is that it's a team game. It's a team sport. Now Anquan and Larry can go and do whatever they want, but this team as a unit – this offensive line with those receivers – it's hard to beat that package. When you package an offensive line with the receivers, the Bears clearly win with because of what each team has accomplished. … I think Larry and Anquan would give away some of their numbers for a division championship, a Super Bowl appearance, and a bunch of wins.

JC: You've played a lot of offense, but you've played a ton of special teams. What's a snap on special teams like compared to a snap on offense?

OA: I think on an offensive snap, you have a specific job that you have to do and you don't necessarily have to go a hundred miles an hour to do it. When you're playing special teams, not only do you have a specific job, but you have to go a hundred miles an hour. It's the longest, hardest, one-snap play you're going to get throughout the whole game. And when you do 25 of those, plus you're playing plays on offense or plays on defense, it even makes the task that more difficult. I think one play for one play, there's nothing that can top the effort and the energy you have to put into special teams. Special teams – you can win with just effort alone. You really can.

JC: You're a fresh face on a team that went to the Super Bowl last year. Do you feel like a stranger in a strange land, or is football just football?

OA: I feel like a stranger in a strange land a little bit because this is a new team. It's a new system. I'm in a new place with new people. I mean, how could it not feel a little bit odd or a little bit awkward in the beginning? But at the end of the day, the place I'm most comfortable is right here on this field because football is football. Now I'm learning some new things as far as the verbiage goes, but there's nothing I haven't done with some other system or some other team . I'm just learning how the Bears do it. I'm learning how the Bears call it. I'm learning how the Bears say it. But the difficulty is really off the field, trying to find my way around. I don't have a house here. I don't have anywhere to live yet. I'm sleeping on my brother's couch. Like, my favorite store is Whole Foods. I can't even find a Whole Foods. The time in the locker room and the time in the facility is easy. It's the time when I'm out of there.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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