Los Angeles Times – Washington Post News Service
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
FOXBORO, Mass. – Whether singing in the chorus, playing percussion on the football field, or saxophone, trombone, trumpet or clarinet in the school band, Tedy Bruschi’s body has always been his instrument.
But the low note came at his first NFL camp six years ago, when the former University of Arizona star realized his mission was something he never wanted to be – an NFL linebacker.
He wanted to be a down lineman, a pass-rusher, as he was at UA, where he tied Derrick Thomas’ NCAA record with 52 career sacks.
“It’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Bruschi said, “making the transition from putting my hand down in the dirt in college and then coming here in ’96 and learning linebacker.
“But I was a realist. I come here and see the Willie McGinests (6 feet 5, 275 pounds) and the Chris Slades (6-4, 250), and I see the body type you need to be an edge rusher in this league.”
Bruschi saw guys who could use their long arms to keep blockers away. He saw guys with sprinter’s speed and rippling muscles. Then he looked at his rather squat 6-foot-1, 242-pound frame.
“I knew I had to change myself as a player,” he said.
Few NFL players have made such a drastic change so successfully. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has been coaching in the league 29 years, says former Giants linebacker Harry Carson is the only one he can recall who made a similarly successful transition to linebacker after being strictly a down lineman in college.
“Tedy never played on his feet at Arizona, and that was the projection when we drafted him (in the third round) at linebacker,” said Belichick.
“When you take a player who is a down lineman, and you put him on his feet as a linebacker, particularly inside linebacker, it’s tough. To be able to read and react as quickly as he does is a little bit unusual.
“The thing about Tedy that has enabled him to be so successful is that he is just a smart football player . . . .Whatever the situation is, he instinctively picks things up quickly.”
- Kevin Barry, OT, Green Bay: no stats vs. Atlanta (W)
- Marcus Bell, LB, Seattle: five tackles, one sack vs. Oakland (L)
- Brant Boyer, LB, Cleveland: four tackles vs. Kansas City (L)
- Tedy Bruschi, LB, New England: plays tonight vs. Pittsburgh
- Trung Canidate, RB, St. Louis: 1-5 (rush), 1-2 (rec.) vs. Denver (L)
- Steven Grace, C, Arizona: no stats vs. Washington (W)
- Mike Lucky, TE, Dallas: no stats vs. Houston (L)
- Brandon Manumaleuna, TE, St. Louis: no stats vs. Denver (L)
- Chris McAlister, CB, Baltimore: two tackles vs. Carolina (L)
- Frank Middleton, OG, Oakland: no stats vs. Seattle (W)
- Josh Miller, P, Pittsburgh: plays tonight vs. New England
- Edwin Mulitalo, OG, Baltimore: no stats vs. Carolina (L)
- Dennis Northcutt, WR, Cleveland: one catch, 43 yards (TD) vs. K.C. (L)
- Rodney Peete, QB, Carolina: 12-19-136, one TD vs. Baltimore (W)
- Antonio Pierce, LB, Washington: one tackle vs. Arizona (W)
- DaShon Polk, LB, Buffalo: one tackle vs. N.Y. Jets (L)
- Joe Tafoya, DE, Chicago: no stats vs. Minnesota (W)