Strongside linebacker Nick Roach has started 24 games in his three seasons with the Bears. Coming over to the Bears in 2007 as an undrafted free agent, Roach spent most of the season on the practice squad.
Roach got his first chance in 2008, when he started nine games next to WLB Lance Briggs and MLB Brian Urlacher. In those nine games, he made 34 tackles and deflected two passes.
Last season, Roach started 15 games, he made 73 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and he deflected three passes. Roach really excelled as a starter.
Roach is a very versatile linebacker, he filled in at every linebacker position with opening day starters Brian Urlacher, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Lance Briggs all missing significant time.
This week I had a chance to speak with him about what he had to do to become the starting strong side linebacker and how the Bears defense will be better with the additions they’ve made this off-season.
Here’s the interview, exclusively on Bearsbacker.com:
Q: First of all how are you doing Nick?
A: Doing great. Couldn’t complain if I wanted to.
Q: Was it always your dream to play in the NFL?
A: Honestly, I can’t say it was a life long dream, but as I started seeing my friends and teammates in college take the next step, I felt like it was something I had a chance at.
Q: How different is it playing for the Bears than Northwestern?
A: It’s really pretty similar. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had great teammates my whole playing career. I’ve always been around guys that play hard and respect the game.
Q: What is your pregame ritual?
A: I don’t really have any unique rituals. I just drink a whole bunch of fluids and eat as many carbs as I can the day/night before.
Q: How many times a week during the season do you work out? What does your work out consist of?
We usually have a 2x/week plan when we’re in season. We still do core lifts like cleans, squats, bench, etc., but the majority of the exercises are for mobility and muscle/joint maintenance.
Q:What kind of drills do the linebackers get put through?
A: There are a lot of different things we practice since we have so many jobs on the field, but we always do drills that involve taking on and getting off of blockers, reading our keys, and catching the ball.
Q: I know your in the competition at the strong side linebacker position with Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer this season. How do you deal with competition?
A: I just embrace it as a learning experience. NFL teams are always looking to improve positions, and they’re constantly evaluating players’ performance against other players, whether it’s on that team or around the league. The fact that I can learn from and compete with proven veterans is only going to be better for me in the long run.
Q: Do you think this team has what it takes to go all the way to Dallas for Super Bowl 45?
A: No doubt. We couldn’t approach each day the right way without that attitude.
Q: How different does the defense look with the additions of Julius Peppers, Chris Harris and Major Wright and having healthy Brian Urlacher, Tommie Harris and Charles Tillman back there?
A: Ha, you just named about half the defense, so it would be hard to say anything but great. As a defense we always stress playing fast and without hesitation, so when you have that caliber you just mentioned, plus more, it makes being a part of it a lot of fun.
Q: Last season you filled in basically at every linebacker spot at some point, when you played middle linebacker you seemed to fit real well, did Brian Urlacher help you out when you were in the middle?
A: Of course. He obviously still had a major interest in how we were doing, so his insights were always close by.
Q: What do you think you have to do to win the starting strongside linebacker position?
A: I don’t think it’s necessarily anything special. The bottom line is we have a lot of playmakers in our room and as last year clearly illustrates, any of us could be called on at any time.
Q: What is your ultimate goal that you want to get from the NFL?
A: I just want to have a positive experience, on and off the field, while being a good example for the youth that look up to us.
Q: What is your ultimate goal in life?
A: My ultimate goal is to be comfortable.
Q: Who is your role model? Who is the person who helped you get to this point?
A: I’ve had many people and role models to this point, but my mom is who taught me accountability for my actions and the importance of proactivity and taking initiative.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to? What TV shows do you like to watch?
A: I don’t have a very diverse music collection, so it’s all rap and r&b. I watch most things on the Food Network and I’ve recently become addicted to the Dog Whisperer.
Q: What is your favorite food? Where do you go to eat in Chicago?
A: My all time favorite foods are probably a well made deli sandwich or a good slice of pizza. I just love trying new things, so Chicago is the perfect place for me since the restaurant scene is so diverse.
Q: What is favorite vacation spot?
A: My girlfriend is from San Diego, so I love going there and hanging out, because no matter the time of year it’s probably beautiful.
Q: How many years do you want to play in the NFL?
A: As many as I’m able.
Q: How hard was it for you when you didn’t get drafted in 2007? Did you think you would be drafted?
A: I knew I was a long shot to be drafted anyway, so when it didn’t happen I wasn’t surprised.
Q: Since you’re from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, did you grow up cheering for the teams in Wisconsin?
A: Not at all.
Q: Does the cold bother you at all during games because the last game at soldier field was very very cold?
A: Honestly, it’s not as bad as you might think, but it does take some extra preparation. You need a few extra layers, maybe some hand/foot warmers, etc.
Q: Do your friends and family ever come to the games?
A: Being from Milwaukee, my family gets to come to all the home games, and when one of them can’t make it I usually have friends willing to fill in.
Q: What is your favorite part of football?
A: My favorite part of football is the feeling of making big plays and just being around my teammates.