Tinoisamoa Takes Lead in Linebacker Battle

Roach sidelined until regular season

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Tinoisamoa had two strong seasons with the Rams before coming to Chicago.

    Pisa Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach have battled throughout the Bears pre-season for the starting job at strong side linebacker. Now, Tinoisamoa has the edge, but he isn't happy about the way he earned it.

    Roach underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, and is expected to be sidelined until the Bears open the regular season, but don't expect Tinoisamoa to let up.

    "I think the competition is still ongoing,'' Tinoisamoa said. "But as a friend, you really don't want to see anyone go under the knife like that. It's not like I'm not competing. We're still trying to win. You can't fall off.''

    Tinoisamoa understands what Roach is going through. After two strong seasons with the Rams, he signed with the Bears in 2009. All was going well until he tore his ACL in the second game of the season, knocking Tinoisamoa out for the the rest of the season. Roach stepped in and averaged six tackles a game.

    Now, it's Roach who has to sit and watch while Tinoisamoa practices alongside Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs on defense. The good news for him is that Roach, a Northwestern alum, has already impressed Lovie Smith.

    ''It hurts you every day you don't practice, especially if you're competing against someone who is out there and is a good football player,'' Smith said. ''But we take everything into consideration. We've seen Nick. We feel we have an idea, but whether he's the starter or not, he and Pisa will both play football for us.''