Monday, August 25, 2008
Bears' Grossman not fully over backup decision but ready to go
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Rex Grossman vowed to be ready and expressed no regrets about re-signing with the Chicago Bears, but he also made one thing clear about his new role.
"I'll never fully get over it," he said. "And I don't think anyone would expect me to."
Although he didn't lash out at coach Lovie Smith for making Kyle Orton the starting quarterback last week, Grossman acknowledged he's having trouble accepting being a backup. He was "a little surprised" by the announcement and still sees himself as a starter.
"But I had some time to digest it and I'll be ready to go," Grossman said Monday in his first public comments since Smith announced his decision last week.
The Bears made it clear there were no guarantees when they re-signed Grossman for just one season while giving Orton a one-year extension through 2009. They announced the starting spot was up for grabs, and the two began competing for the job during minicamp in May and workouts in June.
The competition heated up during training camp, with the two splitting reps with the first team in practices and the first two preseason games. Smith declared Orton the winner on Aug. 25, and the fourth-year pro from Purdue eased some concerns against San Francisco on Thursday.
He threw for 147 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while playing into the third quarter in the third preseason game -- a big improvement over the first two.
He struggled, going 1-for-4 for 6 yards, and got booed by the home crowd. Again.
"I haven't worried about that because I don't control that," Grossman said. "I feel like I've done a lot for this team over the last five years. I've had some unfortunate things happen to me and some bad games, but for the most part, I feel like I've been a pretty good contributor to this organization.
"We've won a lot of games when I've played. I'm proud of a lot of things I've done, and I'm not paying attention to anyone -- or anything -- that will try to tell me otherwise."
Limited by injuries early in his career, Grossman tested the fans' -- and the organization's -- patience with his inconsistent play.
He performed at a Pro Bowl level early in the 2006 season but was erratic the rest of the way. The Bears stuck with him and reached the Super Bowl behind a dominant defense, strong offensive line and solid running game, but an awful start last year sent Grossman to the sideline.
The Bears turned to Brian Griese after Grossman threw six interceptions and one touchdown in the first three games last season, when they went a disappointing 7-9. Grossman returned for five games and played better, passing for 913 yards with three touchdowns and one interception before injuring his left knee.
A 2-1 finish with Orton led to the competition that Grossman ultimately lost. Even so, he expressed no regrets about re-signing.
"I felt like this was a great option for me to come back and start," he said. "It didn't happen, but the season's just around the corner. I'm not anticipating anything happening, but I've got to be ready because that moment could be the biggest moment of my career. I've got to take off and be ready to go."
He acknowledged it won't be easy.
"It's something I have to deal with right now, but I'm going to make sure I do whatever I need to do ... to make sure I'm a great player in this league," Grossman said. "My personal goals haven't changed. My role in the immediate future has changed, but my outlook hasn't changed at all."
Can he stay mentally ready for a call that might not come, though?
"I definitely think so," Smith said. "He talked to you all today, so that says a lot. You do need a little time when a decision like that is made. But Rex is a team player. He's a professional. He has a job. He's a big part of what we like to do. We have a lot of players in the role that Rex is in right now."
Injured LT Chris Williams had little to say after causing a stir Sunday when he said the Bears knew of a pre-existing herniated disc in his lower back when they drafted him in April. "I'm not talking about medical stuff anymore," said Williams, who had surgery recently. "It's just a waste of time." The 14th overall pick, Williams reportedly slipped on some teams' charts because of questions about his back. Williams left the second practice at training camp, but the organization insists there is no connection between the current injury and the problems he had in college.