Northwestern University recently instituted a mandatory nap time for players on game day. And although the policy wasn’t in effect when he played there, grabbing a snooze makes sense to Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.
“Really, that’s what I’ve been doing on my own for years,” said Wootton. “I’d go to early morning practices or meetings at Northwestern, then slip away for a few Z’s.”
Wootton claims that just 20 minutes of solid rest can make all the difference.
“As players, you are under considerable physical and mental pressure,” he said. “Just taking that time for yourself can be incredibly refreshing. I wouldn’t object at all if the Bears created nap time at Halas Hall.”
Wootton, rejuvenated after some much needed down time during the bye week, is looking forward to meeting the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on Monday Night.
“It’s a home game and a nationally televised game. There’s a lot to like about that. And although Chicago/Detroit isn’t the rivalry that Chicago/Green Bay has always been, it will be intense. Both teams definitely want to dominate this game. They are relatively evenly matched, so it should be a hard-fought game. “
What about the Bears performance so far on defense?
“It’s been fun. The goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season are showing up on the field,” he said. “So much of the outcome of a game depends on a good ratio of turnovers and takeaways. We’ve been strong in that area. Going against Detroit, we plan to continue that trend, putting pressure on the passer and throwing off their game plan. A fast, strong pass rush disrupts the timing of an offensive play. Mistakes are made and turnovers can result. That's exactly what we want."
The Lions (2-3) are two games back of the Bears (4-1) in the NFC North. Detroit is averaging 419.6 yards per game on offense, second overall in the NFL behind New England, while the Bears are third in total defense, allowing 291.2 yards per contest. Once again, it will be a battle between the unstoppable force and the immovable object.
“There is so much more to it than you can find in the stats,” Wootton said. “The Lions had a rough couple of games, then they turned things around. They came back strong against Philadelphia last weekend. Its our job as a defense to make sure that doesn’t happen next Monday Night.”
Wootton struggled with injuries his first two seasons with the Bears but is fully healthy this year and it’s showing. He’s currently second on the team with 3.0 sacks and leads the club with two forced fumbles.
“I’m working to improve every week,” Wootton said. “That’s my job. It’s why I’m here.”
And if solid production by Wootton is facilitated by a pre-game nap, that’s something he’ll make time for.
“It works and it makes sense. The NU players and coaches are right. Rest equals increased energy and mental alertness on the field. Every player wants that.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.