|Olsen ready to take next step with Bears|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 30 April 2007 13:37|
After later starring for his dad at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey, Olsen started out at Notre Dame, transferred to Miami (Fla.) and now his football journey has landed him in the NFL as the first-round pick of a fabled franchise, the Chicago Bears.
He's the first tight end the Bears have taken in the opening round since a guy named Mike Ditka was chosen out of Pittsburgh in 1961.
Olsen, a 6-foot-5, 254-pounder who bypassed his senior season, has the speed to help open up the Bears' passing game. He runs good routes and has good hands.
But this much he's learned from all the football he's been around: Olsen has to prove himself all over again to a new set of teammates.
``You have to earn the respect of the team. Going into high school, going into college and now the NFL,'' he said Monday when he was introduced by the team. ``You can't just step in and be accepted. ... And you have to play well. Just because you're a first-round pick when that training camp comes, you're all fighting for that same spot.''
He knows, too, that not everything goes as planned. His junior season at Miami was fraught with disappointment. The shooting death of a teammate and then an ugly melee with Florida International were all part of a season that ended with the ouster of coach Larry Coker. After a bowl win, the Hurricanes finished 7-6, not acceptable at Miami.
``It was frustrating. Any time you go to a school such as Miami, a top program that's used to winning, the expectation is to go undefeated every year,'' Olsen said. ``We went through some things as a team you never want to go through.''
Olsen said he and his brother, who was a quarterback at Virginia and is expected to get a tryout with the Bears this weekend, earned some tough love playing for their dad, Chris. And the discipline he learned helped him develop as a player.
``It was probably elevated even more because he had to be harder on us because he was our dad and he didn't have to answer to the parents, he could do whatever he wanted with us,'' Olsen said.
``You ask any of his players that he's had, he's your intense, in-your-face type of coach and that's just his method, and for sometimes as bad as it is, you love it because it works. ... He truly cares about his players and he'll do anything for them.''
Olsen caught 40 passes for 489 yards in the 2006 regular season and finished his career with 87 receptions and six TDs. He played at a school that has a long tradition of top tight ends: Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow.
Now he's headed to a team that is one of the founding franchises of the NFL, one that made it to the Super Bowl last season, losing on a rainy day in Miami to the Colts. He'll be rejoining Miami teammate Devin Hester, who made quite an impact as a rookie, setting an NFL record with six kick returns for TDs and then tacking on another to open the Super Bowl.
Olsen's agent is also well Known to the Bears. Drew Rosenhaus represents several members of the team, including disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who has threatened to sit out the entire season after he was tagged as the franchise player.
Olsen, the 31st pick overall, doesn't want any contract hang-ups of his own.
``I made it clear through the process that I want to play,'' Olsen said. ``That's what is most important to me. You know the money and the contracts and everything, that's fine. My whole life I've just wanted to play football. And I expect to be in camp the first day and get started on time as everyone else. I don't expect that to be a problem.''