Olsen played with Taylor at Miami and mourns his tragic passing
Most of the talk Wednesday around the National Football League surrounded the shooting death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. The fourth-year bone-crusher was developing into one of the premier players at his position, earning his first Pro-Bowl berth last season and leading the NFC in interceptions this season with five despite missing two games because of a knee injury. And although Taylor had a few run-ins with the law over the years and never really spoke to reporters because he didn't trust them, he appeared to be turning his life around and had grown tremendously as a human being since becoming a father for the first time about a year and a half ago.
Bears rookie tight end Greg Olsen was a freshman at the University of Miami during Taylor's last season with the Hurricanes, so he was noticeably shaken up when asked about his fallen former teammate.
S Sean Taylor
Win McNamee/Getty Images
"As a football player, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better guy at that position than him," Olsen said Wednesday before practice at Halas Hall. "Those were the guys when I came in – him and [Browns tight end Kellen] Winslow – and those were the guys that were the main guys on that team."
There have been many stories recently of professional athletes being targeted specifically by criminals, including basketball stars Antoine Walker an Eddy Curry here in Chicago, something Olsen is aware of and admits can be difficult to avoid.
"It's not an easy situation for everybody," he said, "especially people that are in the same profession. They're targets. They're high-profile people, and people kind of want what you have and kind of see you as a way to get it. It's unfortunate. You just have to take the necessary precautions, and you just have to live your life. There's nothing you can really do too much about it. It's terrible that somebody could do that."
And unlike your stereotypical shooting story involving a professional athlete, Taylor wasn't out all night at a club looking for trouble – he was asleep in his own bed.
"When you're home at your house, you think you're in your safest environment," said Olsen. "It's terrible."
Strahan not slowing down now even in his 15th professional season
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman has certainly played better since re-assuming his role as the starter in Chicago, but he's still vulnerable to a heavy pass rush and continues to get sacked all too often. Now he's facing the Giants in Week 12, a matchup against the No. 1 sacking defense in the league (38 of them on the year) that features a devastating tandem at defensive end: Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. The two of them have combined for 18 sacks on the season, more than the Dolphins (17), Texans (16), Panthers (10), and Bills (10) have as a team.
While Umenyiora is certainly the best D-end Strahan has ever played with in the Big Apple and keeps offenses from double-teaming him on every snap, Strahan doesn't necessarily think Umenyiora's presence alone has lengthened his career or made him any more productive.
DE Michael Strahan
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Believe it or not, the 36-year-old Strahan came pretty close to retiring before the beginning of this season and didn't even report to the Giants until Sep. 4 because of a contract dispute, just six days before the team's Week 1 matchup with Dallas.
"About as close as you can come," he said. "The beach was looking real nice."
New York head coach Tom Coughlin told the Chicago media via conference call Wednesday that he'd like to see his defense become more aggressive and blitz more often, a notion that his future Hall-of-Famer found quite amusing.
"I guess that's what he wants," Strahan said along with his signature laugh. "I thought we did plenty already. I can only imagine if we do more."
For the Bears, LB Lance Briggs (hamstring), DT Tommie Harris (knee), WR Devin Hester (foot), and OT Fred Miller (ankle) all missed practice Wednesday. CB Nathan Vasher (groin) was only able to participate on a limited basis.
As for the Giants, WR Plaxico Burress (ankle/knee), LB Antonio Pierce (ankle), and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring) all missed practice Wednesday. RB Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) and WR Steve Smith (hamstring) were both only able to participate on a limited basis. However, RB Derrick Ward (ankle/groin) took part in all drills.
News & Notes
Needless to say, the Bears will be looking for a new rotation at running back after the loss of Cedric Benson to a season-ending ankle injury. According to Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, Adrian Peterson will now be the featured back as opposed to just a third-down option. Rookie Garrett Wolfe should get some touches here and there, but expect Peterson to carry the load Sunday against the Giants.
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.
All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...
BEAR REPORT, the only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears ... CLICK HERE to subscribe today