Bears Interest in Tatupu? Roach Unconcerned..
Bears' Roach unconcerned with Tatupu talk
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...0-04111745.jpg Story: Overweight Bears DT Harrison expects to miss another practice http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...7-03172512.jpg Photos: Bears training camp in Bourbonnais
By Vaughn McClure Tribune reporter 3:35 p.m. CDT, August 4, 2011
BOURBONNAIS -- Nick Roach figured the Bears would look into available linebackers whether he re-signed with the team or not.
When talk of the Bears’ interest in three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu started to circulate this week, Roach wasn’t fazed.
"There’s nothing you really can do," Roach said Thursday. "Every year, there are guys floating in and out of the (linebackers) room. I just feel fortunate to be one of the guys who is here, and you just have to worry about that."
A source confirmed the Bears have made at least one phone call inquiring about Tatupu, who recently was released by the Seahawks. Tim Ruskell, now the Bears director of player personnel, was the general manager in Seattle and responsible for the Seahawks moving up nine spots in the 2005 NFL Draft to select Tatupu.
That doesn’t mean the Bears are going to make a strong push for Tatupu. The veteran free agent is on a visit with the Washington Redskins and might not leave D.C. without signing a contract.
The Bears are unlikely to engage in a bidding war for Tatupu, who was scheduled to make a $4 million base salary this season and refused to take a pay cut.
Tatupu started at middle linebacker in Seattle, a role he understands he wouldn’t fill in Chicago as long as Brian Urlacher remains in town. With six-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs set and comfortable at weak-side linebacker, Tatupu would have to overtake Roach for a starting role, and he could struggle to make a seamless transition to the strong side.
Lovie Smith proclaimed Roach the starter at strong-side linebacker from Day 1 of training camp. Roach, who received a two-year deal last Friday, received the same type of assurance behind closed doors.
"I was told I was going to start before I signed" Roach said. "So that’s just what I have to go on."
Then again, Smith often preaches that every position is up for competition.
Smith said last week free-agent Pisa Tinoisamoa, who started 10 games at strong-side linebacker last season ahead of Roach, "remains in the mix because he’s a good player." Tinoisamoa, however, wouldn’t be re-signed until he recovers from major knee surgery. He is unlikely to be fully healthy until October.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli declined to comment about any free-agent options still available to the Bears. Marinelli did talk about Roach.
"We like Nick," Marinelli said. "Smart. Been in the system. He plays in space and can tackle. I couldn’t be more happy with a linebacker like him."