Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the football against Charles Tillman #33, Major Wright #27, and Nick Roach #53 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 16, 2011 in Chicago. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Nick Roach doesn't need to be Picasso. He just needs to be the Bears' middle linebacker.
That's easier said than done for the former Northwestern University art major when the guy you're replacing is All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher. So he understands the comparisons.
"I'll probably do the same thing," Roach said, admitting that he would wonder what Urlacher would do in certain situations.
But #54 isn't far away. Despite a Grade 2 hamstring strain, Urlacher is "coach" on the sidelines.
"Brian's really good about being there," Roach said. "It's great to hear from a guy like Brian, who's had all this experience and success doing it, to have that kind of personal coaching is great."
Roach's nickname in the Bears locker room is "the Natural" because he plays all three linebacker positions, with attention to detail and barely making a mistake. His nickname could just as well be "Whispers." Anyone who ever hears Roach speak (and it isn't often) has to lean in close to actually hear what he's saying.
"His voice has developed," Weak Side linebacker Lance Briggs joked. "I don't know if that's the right word, but he's matured."
That got a laugh out of Roach on Thursday. "Lance is, he's a very funny guy."
This isn't the first time Roach has played the middle linebacker position. He filled in for virtually the entire preseason when Urlacher was out of mini camps and training camp.
"It all goes back to having to start all the calls," Roach explained of the difference between the strong side and middle. "[It] starts with the MIKE letting everybody know something's going to change once we get set or in general getting the call to the defense. Everybody else's job basically is just to echo."
And to break out of the shadow of two All-Pro's he's played with the past six years.