Chicago Bears offensive lineman A.J. Greene was only a starter for a brief period during his career at Auburn. The 6-5, 298 pounder started his senior year, yet only appeared in three games the prior three seasons.
He was invited to the 2012 Scouting Combine but before the event, announced his retirement from football. NFL scouts and coaches never got to see him up close.
Shortly thereafter, he changed his tune and chose to give football one more chance. As such, he went undrafted, yet the Bears picked him up immediately following the draft. He was an offensive tackle in college but has been working at left guard with backups so far in Bears training camp.
Bear Report correspondent Beth Gorr goes one-on-one with Greene.
“I can’t believe that this is the final week of camp. It seems as if this thing has just started. It’s been a busy few weeks, that’s for sure. We’ve had meetings, conditioning, practice and more meetings. If you aren’t careful, it’s relatively easy to exhaust yourself. I try to rest any chance I get. So far that is working for me as I feel good both physically and mentally.
“I’m a tackle out of Auburn, the same school that Jason Campbell went to. Having this opportunity to play with the Bears is something beyond my dreams. I am so happy to be here and I’m working 24/7 to be certain that I stay here.
“Right now, I’m having a rookie moment, carrying a pile of other player’s pads and helmets off of the field. I really don’t mind that at all. Coming in I expected to have to pay my dues.
“The other night we had to sing for the vets during dinner. It was fun in a strange sort of way. I was OK as a singer but not great. I don’t think I’ll have a career in that field any time soon.
“One thing that has surprised me since I’ve been here is the cooperation among players, even including the new guys. If any of us have questions, somebody is always available to help out. It’s also true with the coaches. Today I stayed after practice working on my technique. The other tackles were right there with me, helping me do a better job on blocking.
“What do I think I bring to this team? I tend to pick up plays quickly and I’m good at protection. I’m large at 6-5, 298, but I can move quickly. The program at Auburn was an excellent one and I know being there has helped me with my confidence. I feel that foundation has a major impact in my transition to playing football at this level.
“Last week’s game was a lot of fun. It was great to see players we don’t know and try to figure out their moves. We face the Bears’ defense every day. Going against other guys was enjoyable and something I’d definitely been looking forward to. The energy on the field changes depending on who is out there. It’s something I’ll be looking forward to experiencing again as the weeks go forward.
“The results of the game were not what we’d hoped for but we’ve learned a lot and will go on from there. We’ve been watching film and analyzing our mistakes. Hopefully those mistakes will not be repeated anytime soon.
“The atmosphere at Soldier Field was electric. I’ve been in big games during college but I’d never experienced anything like that. Words can’t even describe what Soldier Field was like to me that night. Playing there during the regular season is going to be a whole lot of fun.
“Between now and then I want to get as many reps in as I possibly can. Any time you can get experience as a new player, it’s all good.
“I’m willing to go wherever the coaches tell me to go and to do anything they want me to do. I’m trying to develop as a versatile player. I’m not working on any particular skills at the moment, just concentrating on doing everything right. I’m trying to get better where the coaches want me to improve. My blocking technique can use some upgrades. Today after practice a few of us were working on how we can better get inside the numbers. I’ll just keep going on that one until I get that right.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.