Chicago Sun-Times

Hillenmeyer recovering from surgery to repair sports hernia

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Wednesday's OTA revealed that defensive tackle Tommie Harris remained where he was when the media was last allowed in to watch veteran players work--on the sideline. Harris finished up the final day of the three-day minicamp in March observing and that is where he was again with the action going on around him. It's probably a preventative measure with Harris' balky left knee. It's only going to take so much grinding and what good is grinding in May? Maybe only a little better than grinding in March, and that's not saying much.

Fellow tackle Marcus Harrison, who had an ACL injury before his final season at Arkansas, was also sidelined with a brace on his knee. No word on when those guys will return to action, and if the Bears had deep concern they'd probably have already ventured into free agency to see what is available.

But the competition that's been waiting at strong-side linebacker will continue to wait until Hunter Hillenmeyer returns. The veteran, who was excused from minicamp two months ago because of injury and to attend the NFLPA annual meeting, is still out. He is recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia. It's unknown when he will get back on the field. If the Bears sign Pisa Tinoisamoa, it might be too late. The free agent visited practice and would be considered the immediate frontrunner at the position if the Bears reel him in. In that situation, Hillenmeyer could be forced to make the roster as a backup middle linebacker and special teams contributor. He's never been outstanding on special teams.

The Hillenmeyer development makes it evident he was dealing with more than minor hand surgery last season when he lost his starting job to Nick Roach midway through the year. He was inactive for the Week 17 finale at Houston but was listed on the injury report that week with an ankle issue.

The most important thing is for Hillenmeyer to be in shape and ready to roll at training camp, which is 10 weeks off. We detailed here how he was much more productive in 2007, a season when he was on the field for nearly 70 percent of the action.

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8 Comments

Brad, I am not the one to write but rather read, but as another reader said, I used to go to the Tribune for my Chicago Sports news online for the past say 10+ years but I have to say that this blog has far surpassed the Tribune and is just overall more insightful and up to the minute. Enough of the overflow of complements, keep up the good work.

I didn't really expect defensive tackle Tommie Harris to particpate in the OTA's, but defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, that came as a surprise to me. I hope there's nothing seriously wrong with Harrison, I had high hopes for the second year defensive tackle. Again, hopefully its nothing serious?

As far as Hunter Hillenmeyer, of course if he's on the field more his stats are gonna be bigger. To me, the tell tale stat was the amount of solo tackles Hillenmeyer and Roach made a piece. Roach had 1 per every 17 tackles, and Hillenmeyer had 1 per every 27 tackles, advantage Roach. Again, I've always liked Hillenmeyer, but he seems to be getting pretty injury prone. Nick Roach is younger and seems to have more upside. If Chicago doesn't reel in Pisa Tinoisamoa, I'd go with Roach. Roach is younger with more upside, and with 1 solo stop per every 17 tackles, can you imagine what Roach's numbers would look like if he was on the field for more than 2 downs GO BEARS!!

Brad, I read where you said "Craig Steltz lined up with the starters at free safety and Kevin Payne was next to him at strong safety. Ultimately, Steltz will probably push Payne for the starting job." Brad, thats a pretty bold statement, you seem pretty confident Steltz is gonna push Payne, why? I though Payne did a pretty good job when he was at strong safety last season. Before he was moved to free safety he seemed to be a tackling machine even leading the team in tackles. And I realize Payne doesn't have the best range in the world, but he did put himself in position to make 4 interceptions to lead the secondary in interceptions. If Payne goes down with an injury I can see Steltz taking the job, but I don't know if he'll just take it from him. Brad, why do you think Steltz will take the starting strong safety job from Payne, did you hear something from one of the coaches, or are you just going on a hunch? GO BEARS!!

Cut ties with Hunter is what I would like to see. He was serviceable for his tenure in Chicago but I think he lacks play making ability.
If they do sing Tino Im thinking Hunter might just be the odd man out. Roach never did excite me. Hunter has just lost a little and Jamar Williams again would have to learn to play SSLB.
Hunter like Roach is a pluck off someone else's practice squad and I think thats where Roach should be. My opinion meaning it means nothing to the coaches or front office.

Good luck to Tommie, Tillman and Harrison to a speedy recovery. The Bears desperately need them to perform come week one and weeks following. I not a huge fan to have a week 5 bye, but hopefully it will do justice.
Lets Go Chicago Bears! ALRIGHT

It bothers me when people trash players whose production dropped because they tried to play with an injury. I also bothers me when promising young players are dismissed because they don't play like veterans when they are rookies.

Why are we trashing Hillenmeyer? He was obviously playing hurt last year. We don't know if he will be healthy in time, and if he is healthy; we don't know how the competition will play out at Sam linebacker. I do know that when Hunter Hillenmeyer is healthy he is a solid playmaker at that position. He has won games for the Bears with his play. We have all seen it. If he is not the same player because of injuries, then the Bears will have to move on, but give the guy a chance to compete.

Why are so many people trashing Steltz? The guy was a solid playmaker on a national championship team. He made some nice plays last year and also missed a few too. In other words he played like a rookie. Now everybody says he's not that big and he doesn't have enough range to play the position. Some of the long-in-tooth fans will remember that was the exact knock on a couple of young players named Fencik and Plank.

Both these players could be selling insurance this fall, but they also have shown themselves to be potential playmakers. How about they get a chance before they get dismissed?

I second that Reader. I used to check out both sites but now I just stick with the Sun-times for sports stuff. Brad does a heckuva job.

Hillenmeyer never had the best speed or talent, but he's a smart, disciplined player. Would I call him a playmaker? Nope. Would I say he's won games? Nope. But then again, I'm not MSBearsfan, now am I?

And MS, who is trashing Steltz? Armstead just asked a question. Steltz has neither the range nor the the skill set to play FS. He's quite simply a SS type. That's why a player like Graham got moved to FS. He fits that mold. Also I wouldn't be comparing our safeties to those of the 85' squad. We don't play the 46. We play the Cover-who?

Brando, sorry to hear that Roach doesn't excite you like other men do.

Really its hunter hillenmeyer? who cares get another good strongside LB and we will b alot better on d-fence.as for harris tough break everyone sayin hes done? is that right? harrison too?tillman? jees.easy guys!!!

I don't think we need to worry about a Payne/Steltz combo at safety.

From what I've read, it seems that Payne will be the starter but will have to fight off competition from Steltz. Graham should be the favorite for the FS spot. Lovie wouldn't have moved him to FS and taken Bowman back to CB unless he was leaning on a Payne/Graham duo. The training camp/pre-season competition will shake this out but unless an injury or trade occurrs, look for the starting secondary to be Vasher, Payne, Graham and Peanut.

Hunter is a solid pro but come on, lets be realistic with him. He has been a liabilty in coverage not only last season but the year before as well and as a sub he doesn't stand out on ST's. Injury or no injury Hunter can't cover anyone from a RB to a TE to a eligible 3'rd OT. IF the Bears can find a better option then they should pursue it.

If the Bears do sign Pisa Tinoisamoa then Hunter will be the odd-man out. Angelo loves his draft picks and Lovie likes Roach but will bench him in favor of his boy Tino. Williams has more value because he is more athletic and can play all (3) LB positions. 5'h round pick Marcus Freeman is a lock. LaRocque is a solid ST performer and will stick, Briggs and Urlacher round out the core.

Go Bears !!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 20, 2009 10:04 PM.

Safety net: Numbers show Graham was in on most plays in '08 was the previous entry in this blog.

Emptying out the notebook: CB Turenne gets noticed is the next entry in this blog.

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