Camp Chat: LB Pisa Tinoisamoa

With the addition of Pisa Tinoisamoa to play on the strong side, the Chicago Bears now have arguably the best set of 4-3 linebackers in the NFL. How's he adjusting to his new teammates so far? Here's what Tinoisamoa told Bear Report after the mini practice Saturday in this exclusive interview.

John Crist: Lovie Smith was your defensive coordinator back when you were a rookie in St. Louis. Now that you're a veteran player and he's your head coach, how is he different and how is he the same after all these years?

Pisa Tinoisamoa: You can't teach an old dog new tricks. He's pretty much the same guy doing that thing. And that's what I love about him. He hasn't changed a bit. In fact, I think he got [stronger] if anything. It looks like he's put on some muscle. But other than that, he's still the same great coach.

JC: As you well know, Smith is going to be calling the signals this season, sort of making him the de facto defensive coordinator. Have you ever been in a situation where the head coach was making the calls on D?

PT: Never, so it will be new for me as well.

JC: In this defense, the strong-side linebacker isn't usually considered to be a play-making position. Can you, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher all make 100 tackles this year, or is there simply not enough plays on the field for three guys to be that productive?

Tinoisamoa has made some plays vs. the pass.
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

PT: To be honest, I don't really think it's like basketball where you're trying to get Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to work together. I don't think it's that kind of deal. I believe in my ability to just get to the ball and make tackles, and if that's what I can do and I can be true to that, then that's what it's going to be. Brian and Lance, they're just big playmakers. If I get a couple every now and then with them, then that would be cool, too. I pretty much understand my role, but I'll play the best I can.

JC: Here in Chicago, what are the big differences between the weak side and the strong side spots in terms of coverage responsibilities and blitzing patterns?

PT: I'll probably be covering the tight end a little more than the weak side, which won't be an issue at all. The weak side, they cover the running backs a little more and whatnot. I think that's probably one of the differences that pop out right off the top of my head. Other than that, it's still tackling the ball carrier.

JC: Back when you signed with the Bears, you told the media you didn't care about the money anymore and just wanted to play for a winner again. Was that an indication that you believe this team is close to a Super Bowl, or is St. Louis just so far away?

PT: Probably both. I feel like the Bears have a great chance in the NFC North, and I think the competition here is pretty good. The NFC West wasn't known for its competition, and I feel like I'm in one of the best [divisions] in the NFL. I really feel that way, so it's probably a little bit of both.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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