After three days of workouts, Tice was fed up and said the kid "can't play". Thirteen years later, Matt Birk is still playing in the National Football League and still starting just as he did his rookie season. That's when Mike Tice realized he needed to learn to be patient with young kids out of college who could dominate at the NCAA level, but struggle to grasp techniques and concepts as a pro.
He sees Bears rookie Levi Horn out of Montana as a young project he'll need to be patient with.
"He has zero technique," Tice said Sunday. "Just a big bully."
So Tice is sending the offensive line back to school.
His meeting rooms are a big classroom. He demands everyone take notes.
"I take notes! I expect them to take notes and become students of the game," he said. And it applies to everyone -- from All-Pro center Olin Kreutz down to undrafted rookie Johan Asiata.
He (Olin) needed to tighten up his technique," Tice observed, but added he thinks the 13-year veteran who struggled with a bone spur near his Achilles last season still graded out at a Pro Bowl level. "I think he can get back to that ... he has a lot left."
The first order of business for the line was to tighten up their "hands" (how they carried them on a block). In looking at film from last year, Tice noticed too many hands down near their thighs. While Kreutz should get back to the level of play Bear fans are used to, third-year tackle Chris Williams has been told they expect him to be an "island" -- a player that won't need help on the line from a tight end or running back in pass blocking.
But Tice warns, Williams is still "quite a ways away".
Tice loves the strength and heart of second-year guard Lance Louis, who could push Roberto Garza for the starting right guard position, and the optimism of Johan Asiata. Still, they have a lot of work to do. The good news it's only Day 3 of training camp.