Chicago Sun-Times

UPDATED: Strong-side competition? Pisa Tinoisamoa to visit Bears Wednesday

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Lovie Smith has a standard answer when it comes to the Bears checking out players on the open market--they're always considering moves to make the team better.

To that end their next move is getting reacquainted with Pisa Tinoisamoa.

While linebacker does not look like a need area, the veteran began his successful career in St. Louis playing for Smith and linebackers coach Bob Babich. The Bears are interested enough to have him in for a visit to Halas Hall Wednesday, according to an NFL source. That trip that coincides with the first OTA of the offseason.

Tinoisamoa was released by the Rams on May 8 despite leading the team in tackles for four of his six seasons, including last year when he had a team-high 135 playing on the weak side. He wasn't deemed to be a fit for new coach Steve Spagnuolo's scheme and St. Louis tried unsuccessfully to trade him.

Tinoisamoa played weak-side linebacker the last few seasons for the Rams but broke into the league as a second-round pick from Hawaii playing on the strong side for Smith. He became the only rookie in franchise history to lead the team in tackles that season. He was moved to the weak side the next season after Smith departed for the Bears, but returned to play the strong side again in 2005.

One reason cited for his departure in St. Louis was his size. Listed at 6-1, 240 pounds, reports stated he played closer to 225 pounds last season. Smith generally looks for undersized linebackers in his scheme, and the addition of Tinoisamoa would create even more competition at strong-side linebacker where Nick Roach is expected to battle Hunter Hillenmeyer for the starting job. Hillenmeyer was the starter for the first seven games before Roach replaced him. Right now, it stands to be one of the few true position battles in training camp. Adding Tinoisamoa would give Smith even more depth at the club's position of strength.

The Buffalo Bills brought in Tinoisamoa for a visit on May 13. They've been kicking the tires of experienced linebackers this offseason, previously checking out Cato June and Freddy Keiaho. It's not known if the team extended a contract offer to Tinoisamoa. What it will take to sign him isn't known at this point but cap space isn't an issue for the Bears. They have $20.8 million in available room.

The Rams didn't do him any favors waiting until after the draft to make the move. He'll probably seek a longterm commitment but could wind up on a short-term deal in order to get back to the marketplace at a more opportune time--the start of free agency. Tinoisamoa signed a $24.7 million, five-year extension in October 2006. He was scheduled to earn $3.25 million this season and that figure might have been prohibitive in the Rams' efforts to find a trading partner.

UPDATE: Tim Graham of reports that Tinoisamoa will also visit Philadelphia. That's interesting because the Rams didn't view him as a fit for their defense and Spagnuolo is running the defense in St. Louis that he learned with the Eagles under Jim Johnson and then took to the New York Giants.

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If the market for Pisa isn't particularly intense or high priced (like the chase for Torry Holt ended up being, glad we didn't pay $7 million/year for him), I'm absolutely all for this signing. He's proven he can be a tackler, but he brings more to the table as a coverage linebacker capable of taking away the screen or the TE from the opposing offense.

Quick question; how many of you guys were at Jason Mckie's Celebowl tonight in Vernon Hills at the Brunswick Zone? I was there with my brother serving ribs and hoagie sandwiches from Big Ed's Bar-b-q. I had a blast with you guys. I'm disappointed that Cutler was making bee-lines thru the place and that several guys made like Houdini fairly early. I met a bunch of guys who were just knocked at by the food and the atmosphere. Only Bear from 85 I saw was Otis who got mobbed and signed every scrap of paper anyone produced. I missed getting Urlacher's, Brigg's,Olsen's, Haney's(who came back to our table a couple of times) and of course Cutler who avoided just about everyone. Hester didn't want much contact either and had 4 guys from the bowl keeping everyone at bay. Now, I'm met him several times before and my brother says that he's just quiet. If you are attending something like that expect the fans to ask for numerous autographs. Pace put a kid off for a few minutes but gave him a signature after a while. I felt bad for the kid at first. Clark went out his way to be nice to everyone. So did Omilaye. But my favorite is Izzy. He actually got the mike from the commentators from and was very good with the interviews. It was good to see Brittany Payton there as well. She does commentary for as well. Olsen is practically the biggest dude around. Which surprised me. He towered over everyone but Pace and Izzy. Kevin Payne got a laugh from my brother who says that he didn't know who he was but he's at the restaurant all the time. I asked him if he was going to be the 3rd leading tackler on the team and he said he wanted to be number one. I reminded him that if he's leading the team something was wrong. And he said that's true. i just liked the fact that he wants to be the best. Dusty was cool and looks like he's ready. Tommie Harris who's really cool with my brother turned down the food several times and when my brother asked him why that was he made a muscle to show that he's dedicated this offseason. His kid looks like a mini-me of him. Big baby. Chris William's wife got a menu and I told her to hide it from him this off season. Everyone said that they were raring to go. That was a lot of fun. I don't attend too many things like that but it was great. I just wondered why the kid in the Cubs' hat was outside getting all the autographs. I guess this year even Cub fans are showing us Bear fans some love. Hey and all those autographs I got was for my kid who's name is also William. Honest...Honest.

William, Izzy is a class act plain and simple. It has been well written about what he tries to do with his foundation and the time he gives out to others. I've met his brothers and sister and they are extremely grounded and humble individuals, much like Izzy seems to be. I am hoping he'll be able to be put back into a position to excel on special teams again.

Would somebody please explain to me why teams worry about the size thing on a guy like Tinoisamoa?

OK when you are at the scouting combine, or looking at college prospects in general, I get it. Scouting the "measureables" is an important part of the evaluation process. That might even apply to signing a pro off somebody's practice squad, or something similar where there isn't a lot of NFL game film on the player. Factoring in the player's size would be part of the process.

But all that evaluation is because they don't know, and are trying to predict, how that player will perform in the real world NFL. Can he cover? Can he tackle? Can he shed blocks? Will he be durable? They have to make an educated guess, a predication.

Tinoisamoa has been a starter in the NFL for six seasons. He is on tons of film and has proably played against about every team. There is no need to "predict" whether or not he is big enough to play. Just watch the film.

Is he healthy? Yeah, you need to know that. Does his skillset fit your system? OK, makes sense to think about that. But is he big enough, strong enough, and fast enough to play in the NFL? Throw away the tape measure, scales and stop watch. They sometimes lie, but you can't hide from the camera. Not for six years.

This stuff drives me crazy. I suppose they are trying to get hime to run a 40 too.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 19, 2009 7:02 PM.

Dollars and sense: The Michael Gaines contract was the previous entry in this blog.

Strong-side inspection: A look at Roach vs. Hillenmeyer battle is the next entry in this blog.

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