I'm excited to debut our new blog feature, Getting to Know....
Jim Cazel wanted me to interview longtime Bears center Olin Kreutz, who was happy to oblige Thursday after lunch. Jim didn't say, but I'm assuming he's from Hawaii, since he started his email to me with, "Aloha."
Below are Jim's questions, along with a few follow ups and extras from me. My questions will say SJ.
Without further ado...
JC: How is the offensive line coaching together and digesting the new playbook?
OK: It's coming along fine. We're putting in a lot of work. We've got great coaches, in coach [Mike] Tice and coach [Mike] Martz, who are feeding us information, at a pace that we can retain it. So we're in the first week of camp, and I think we'll be ready by Sept. 12.
JC: How do you feel?
OK: I feel good. I feel really good. I feel about as good as I have in a couple of years. So hopefully, that translates onto the field.
JC: How much does it help a young player like Chris Williams to practice against a player like Julius Peppers?
OK: That's huge. That's huge in your young career. I had Ted Washington when I was young, and he taught me a ton of stuff about playing in the NFL, and blocking a big nose guard. Ted Washington, to me, was the best nose guard to ever play the game. He was just an animal. To play against him every day, by the time you got to the game, no game is easy - but it was easy. In your mind, you think, 'I can block this guy, because I've blocked Ted before.' Ted would beat you up some days and teach you lessons.
'You better not take that step, or else I'll shove you into the ground.' Julius is going to do the same thing for Chris, and Chris is going to be an elite left tackle. And now having the advantage of having Julius to go against, the sky's the limit for him.
JC: Have any of your offensive linemen tried poi yet?
OK: No, none of them. I don't think they'll like it, anyway.
SJ: You going to take them to a [Hawaiian] restaurant?
OK: You got to grow up with poi, then you'll enjoy it.
JC: What does coach Tice bring to your unit?
OK: A ton of experience. Coach Tice is top one or two offensive line coaches in the NFL, so when you have a guy like that, you can't help but get better
SJ: Were you aware of him?
OK: Oh yeah, I knew coach for a long time. He actually worked me out at the University of Washington, when I was coming out. And I played against him, when he was the head coach in Minnesota, so I've been aware of coach Tice the whole time I've been in the NFL.
JC: What will be the biggest challenge for your offensive line this year?
OK: Learning the offense, learning the details. That's the biggest challenge in any offense. And in the NFL, the small things win. It's not the big stuff. So doing all the small things right together. That will always be the challenge, no matter what year it is.
SJ: Martz said it would take the offensive line a while to come along. What do you tell your teammates?
OK: First of all, the o-line hasn't been doing that bad. Second of all, you never panic. The NFL is about getting better. If you get better every week, you'll be ready to go.
A lot of guys start off looking great then they fade and that's how you lose games in the NFL. How you win in the NFL is get better every day, and that's what we're trying to do.