No time to wait

Bears linebacker Rosevelt Colvin is concerned about the recent injuries to a number of Bears starting players, but not for the usual reasons.

"Sure, we are using the back ups a lot right now. That doesn't really bother me a whole lot," Colvin said. "That's what they are here for and that is then role they are expected to play on this team. What does bother me somewhat is the added pressures being put on our rookies."

Colvin said that the first year in pro football, even under the best of circumstances, can be a distracting experience.

"Look at it this way these guys are just out of college," he said. "They don't know too much about the world just yet. Maybe they also are from small towns and are not familiar with the demands and temptations of an urban setting. This is a pretty sophisticated environment even for those who were stars in college ball."

As a well-publicized 1999 draft choice in a town full of avid football fans, Colvin quickly realized just how popular new members of the team can be within the community at large.

"The distractions of newfound celebrity can turn the heads of just about any athlete," Colvin said. "Who wouldn't eat it up? This is a rarified situation. For many of these new players it is the first time they have had money, the fancy new car, and the opportunity to wear an official team jersey to the mall. They are getting nonstop attention both from the media and from the fans. It's a lot to have going on all at once."

Colvin feels that because of the distractions, a first year player needs to have room to grow and to adjust before being played in demanding game situations.

"There is an interesting difference that I certainly noticed between college and pro ball," Colvin said. "I'm not talking about the speed of the game or the quality of the players at this level. It is more of an overall view of the game as it occurs in the pros.

"In college you are responsible for your position. That is your only job. In the pros, however, you need to have a constant mental picture of the flow of the game. If you're playing well, fine. But if the guy next to you isn't, you need to step up and help him out a bit. Until a rookie wakes up mentally and understands this basic concept, he's going to have trouble working to his ability. That will get frustrating for him pretty quickly and his level of play could suffer in the short term."

How long, then might it take for the Bears newest team members to settle into their new roles as NFL participants?

"Longer than you might think," Colvin said. "It took me about a year and a half. I just woke up one day and thought ‘hey, I've been doing this all wrong. I'm going to try something else.' My play improved almost immediately. It was part of the overall maturation process."

Is game experience the best thing for a rookie?

"Not necessarily. I never had any of the pressure that these guys are under right now," Colvin said. "When I started out, our top players were healthy. Sure, I played now and then, but I didn't have to go out there series after series and be close to perfect in my execution.

"Think about it. These guys are facing teams that they've followed on television for years. Many of the opposing players are household names. That can be pretty intimidating. It's a lot to absorb in a short period of time. With the situation pretty chaotic in the rest of his life, a rookie needs time to settle into the NFL routine. It's unrealistic to expect him to settle down and to pay attention to the game as a veteran player would. A rookie has to have the time to develop as a person before he can function well as a player."

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