Antrel Rolle relishes his new role

BOURBONNAIS -- Being asked to come to a new team and immediately take on a position of leadership can be a heavy burden -- but not if you're Antrel Rolle of the Chicago Bears.

It comes easy to the 32-year-old three-time Pro Bowl safety because he has the numbers, the confidence, the experience and the talent to handle his new role on his new team.

"You either got it or you don't," Rolle says with the self-assured air of a guy who's been there and done that.

"My resume probably speaks for itself, but that means nothing to me right now. It shouldn't mean anything to them.

"It's all about what I do once I'm here. Every year presents it's own new set of challenges, and I like to take each year as a new year and work on different things, always trying to get better at something."

The Bears gave Rolle a three-year $11.25 million contract in the off-season as one of their marquee free-agent signings.

He spent the previous five seasons with the New York Giants, where he started all 80 games and had 15 of his 26 career interceptions, including 9 in the last two years.

Rolle has returned 4 of his picks for touchdowns, including 3 in 2007.

The Bears are counting on more than leadership from Rolle. They've been in need of a talent upgrade and more consistency for most of the past 12 years, since the state of Lovie Smith's regime.

The situation at safety has been one of ever-changing mediocrity.

Ryan Mundy came in a year ago and provided some stability, starting all 16 games at strong safety, leading the team by a wide margin with 85 solo tackles and tying for the team lead with 4 interceptions.

He and 2014 fourth-round pick Brock Vereen, who started five games last season, are waging a training camp battle for the right to start alongside Rolle.

From 2004-11, the Bears' starters at strong and free safety changed 56 times.

Major Wright and Chris Conte provided some continuity at the position for the next couple years, but neither played well enough to be considered a long-term answer.

"I was aware of it," Rolle said of the Bears' checkered past at the safety position. "I knew that there was a need for a safety here. I was more than happy to come in and fill that role.

"I feel like I'm definitely going to be a versatile player and make a lot of plays in the secondary."

That appears to be a given for the 11th-year veteran, who has been making plays since the Arizona Cardinals drafted him in the first round (eighth overall) in 2005.
"I've always found my way on the field," said Rolle, who has missed just one game in the previous nine seasons. "I'm no stranger to that. If you don't get action, you find action."

Rolle always seem to finds it, yet he almost always escapes unscathed. Despite being in on 788 tackles in his career, the 6-foot, 206-pounder has been an iron man, starting 143 of the last 144 games.

At an age when most NFL players have retired or are on the their last legs, Rolle just keeps on rolling.

How does he do it?

"Work," he said. "All work. I never stop. To me, age is nothing but a number because I can still go out here and outrun this guy and run with that guy all day. It doesn't matter to me.

"I feel like a lot of this is in your mind. Your mind is going to pretty much control everything. I don't go out there and see myself as a 32-year-old; I see myself as a player. Make plays when the opportunity presents itself."

That's the kind of leader needed on a Bears defense that was the NFL's worst in points allowed and second worst in passing yards allowed last season -- one who leads by example.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus