Had some more interesting information in regards to right tackle Fred Miller that did not make the print edition, so I’ll complement that piece here:
There are plenty who have been calling for the replacement of Miller, who has a sprained right ankle and could be replaced by veteran John St. Clair in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. The right tackle is going to square off against future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan. Coach Lovie Smith made it clear Miller was the starter when healthy.
Miller is 34 and is earning $3 million this season with his base pay going up to $4 million in 2008. Miller’s salary-cap figure for ’08 is $5.8 million, a lot of money for an aging lineman. But you’re going to have to spend money to replace him, and skilled linemen who aren’t injury risks are hard to find. General manager Jerry Angelo doesn’t have a track record of success drafting offensive linemen, either. The Bears have gotten just 30 starts out of linemen drafted by Angelo.
The idea of returning next season and helping bring a young lineman along appeals to Miller. Some veterans want nothing to do with serving as a mentor to younger players, but it’s how Miller found his way in the league. The St. Louis Rams made Miller a fifth-round pick in 1996 and he came in and learned from veteran Darryl Ashmore ... until Ashmore lost his job.
``They found out I could play,’’ Miller said. ``[Six] games into the season, they got rid of him. He was one of my closest buddies. He was helping me take his job. All I can go off of is my experience and what guys have shown me. I’d be more than happy to tutor a guy along.’’
As far as his future, Miller isn’t particularly concerned. He signed a five-year contract with the Bears for roughly $2 million less than he was being offered by the New Orleans Saints. He knows that finding someone with a proven background to replace him will be challenging. Miller has missed only one start since 1999.
``You don’t find experienced starting offensive linemen for cheap,’’ he said. ``Especially guys who are going to stay healthy. It’s one thing to go out there and play a couple games. It’s another thing to go out and play a full season year after year.
``This is the NFL and at some point or another you are going to be cut or you are going to be waived. It’s going to happen. I don’t expect anything different. Eventually there will come a point where they will have someone else to replace me, whether it’s tomorrow or two years down the road.’’