Lance Louis is Making the Grade..............
Whatever Bears’ Lance Louis is, it’s working
By NEIL HAYES email@example.com December 2, 2011 11:32PM
Updated: December 3, 2011 2:09AM
Though Jonathan Himebauch watched some of the Bears’ game Sunday, the Montreal Alouettes’
offensive line coach didn’t see Oakland Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry tip an attempted screen pass by Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie. He didn’t see Kamerion Wimbley’s interception or 320-pound Bears tackle Lance Louis racing 73 yards downfield to tackle Wimbley from behind and save a touchdown.
But Himebauch, Louis’ former position coach at San Diego State, wasn’t surprised to learn the player he calls ‘‘The Big Cajun’’ was the one to catch Wimbley.
‘‘I bet all you saw was a big flash of dreadlocks,’’ he said, chuckling. ‘‘There goes Lance.’’ Louis brought Wimbley down with a horse-collar tackle which cost the Bears a 15-yard penalty and Louis a $7,500 fine that the Bears would gladly pay if they could — his hustle led to the Raiders settling for a field goal. The play was an example not just of Louis’ athleticism but his determination to do whatever it takes to succeed in the NFL.
‘‘Every guy on the team will tell you they want to provide for their family,’’ Louis said. ‘‘I came up with nothing. I just want to leave something behind to help my family and to help other people out because it’s hard out there, man.’’
Louis knows. He grew up poor in New Orleans’ West Bank. He so considered football his avenue of escape that he was willing to play any position, which remains the case all these years later. The former tight end’s ability to move from guard to tackle is just the latest example of the versatility that has kept him bouncing from position to position throughout his college and NFL career.
He excelled at guard last year and early this season. His success at right tackle since filling in for injured rookie Gabe Carimi was a big reason why the Bears won five straight and scored 30 or more points in three straight games before the 25-20 loss at Oakland. It makes some wonder what his natural
position really is and just how good he could be if he were allowed to settle in somewhere.
‘‘He could play defensive end, defensive tackle, guard, tackle and even tight end or H-back in some offenses,’’ said LeCharls McDaniel, a former NFL cornerback who coached Louis at San Diego State. ‘‘There aren’t that many guys with that size with so much versatility.’’
Louis was considered one of the nation’s top tight end prospects coming out of Landry High School, where he also played basketball. He was also recruited as a defensive end. Unlike many top recruits, he didn’t care what position he played in college.
‘‘Wherever,’’ he told the hometown New Orleans Times Picayune in 2003. ‘‘If it’s on a team, I’ll play.’’
He was excelling as a tight end for the Aztecs, playing in 11 games as a freshman. He had career highs with five catches for 93 yards against Hawaii in the final game of his sophomore season before suffering a major knee injury in the spring. He exhausted his redshirt year during the long, slow recovery.
By the time he was healthy enough to play, he wasn’t needed at tight end as much as along the offensive line. At 6-3, Louis has the body type of a guard. That’s where he played his junior year. When he was a senior, Himebauch moved him to right tackle and quickly learned what Bears offensive Mike Tice recently realized: Louis may look like a guard, but he can play outside. His strength and quick feet allow him to get in front of defensive ends. His strength allows him to stay there.
‘‘Lo and behold, not only could he play line, but he could play tackle, which was pretty special,’’ McDaniel said. ‘‘The guy can be put on an island. He’s like an old-school tackle. He’s got those tight-end feet, and he’s got a feel for being on the edge and blocking. ‘‘He solidified our offensive line. We didn’t have anybody, and he went out there and played tackle and did whatever he could for the team.’’
His history at San Diego State has repeated itself with the Bears. Ask Louis where he would most like to play, and ‘‘The Big Cajun’’ shrugs. ‘‘Honestly, it doesn’t really matter,’’ he said. ‘‘I just want to be out there. I’m a bounce-around player. That’s what I am. It isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing.’’