Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene, the club’s fourth-round pick this year, was nothing but impressive against the Carolina Panthers last week. His performance put everyone on notice.
“He’s progressing nicely,” said coordinator Mel Tucker. “I think he’s picking up the scheme. I think he’s more certain about what he’s supposed to do in his alignments, because he’s very detail-oriented. He wants to do it right, so it’s important to him that he executes. He really wants to be on top of it. He’s put the work in, so he’s more at ease and more comfortable at getting aligned. Therefore he can play faster. I think that’s what you saw on the field.”
Bear Report caught up with Greene after practice this week to discuss his first-ever NFL game.
“Everything about having the opportunity to be in that first NFL game was great,” Greene said. “Getting the chance to go full speed and tackle to the ground was what I’ve been working for since coming to the Bears. It felt natural and comfortable. Obviously I wasn’t perfect and I definitely made some mistakes but just being out there was real good. I enjoyed every minute of the experience.”
What word would you use to describe the feeling of being on the field for the first time?
“Dazzling,” he said. “Everything is new and exciting. It’s all intensified. But you need to move beyond that feeling quickly so you can work effectively on the field.”
Against the Panthers, you had a goal-line stop in which you dropped the ball carrier in the backfield for a loss. Take us through that play.
“It was a good play. I felt fine about it afterwards. I read my keys and shot the gap. The scheme allowed me to do some productive things and I definitely had fun executing properly.
“That’s what I’d been taught to do. The good part was that things turned out the way I’d hoped they would. I know my family enjoyed watching it unfold. I heard from them afterwards. But I also know there are many more things I need to work hard on so I can be a better player and more productive out on the field for this team. I plan to analyze game film, see what I did right, find out what I could improve on, and go from there.”
What was it like being in your first NFL training camp?
“Surprisingly, it was almost exactly what I had expected. I knew the days would be full and the work would be hard. I knew we’d be having a lot of meetings and that the time involved would be considerable. The whole point of camp for a rookie is to learn. I took every opportunity I had before me to do that.
“We’ve had some intense practices while we’ve been in Bourbonnais. In college I was taught how to preserve my body while still expending major physical effort. That has helped me quite a bit. Also, the Bears nutrition staff and the trainers have been guiding all of us every step of the way. The condition of your body determines how effective you will be, so paying attention to that is so important. At this point, I’m feeling good and ready to go on to the challenge of the regular season.
“We get great coaching here with the Bears. The proof of that is in how comfortable the rookies felt on the field during the game last week. The coaches regulate the speed of our practices perfectly. We are gradually increasing until we reach a pace similar to what we face in a game situation. That way when you are actually playing against another team, it seems familiar and comfortable. You are relaxed enough to play well.
“Another factor that has helped us is the individual attention the rookies are getting both from our coaches and from the vets. We are made to feel that we are a part of this team from the first day we are here. Sure, you will see us carrying the vet’s pads off the field at the end of practice, but that's something we are happy to do. Every rookie has to pay their dues.
“It’s a small price to pay for all that these players are doing for us on a daily basis. Lance [Briggs], D.J. [Williams], James Anderson, all the other guys, having those guys around willing to help me out means more than I can say. They have given me knowledge and confidence. Every day they are helping me to get better, teaching me to use my hands, trust my reads, going out there to play fast. When I make a mistake or am less than perfect they’ll let me know, but then they will help me. That’s what it’s all about.
“I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to going to Soldier Field this week. Being in front of the home crowd, getting the chance to play in another game, it’s completely amazing. I don’t see the experience as being anything other than great.”
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.