Not much went right for the Bears defense last year, particularly in the defensive backfield, but from start to finish Kevin Payne’s play at safety was one of the few consist bright spots.
As he enters his second year as a starter it’d be nice to get to know more about one of the emerging young players on this defense.
- Growing up in Arkansas who were your favorite teams and the players you looked up to?
- In addition to football you lettered in basketball and baseball as well in high school. Was football always your best sport or was there a time you envisioned yourself playing one of the other two professionally?
- Professional football is a year-round endeavor now more than ever, but everyone needs a break. What do you do to get away from football?
- What about Kevin Payne that fans don’t know might really surprise them?
- When you started school at Louisiana-Monroe what did you think were your chances at playing in the NFL?
- After your sophomore year you switched to safety, but prior to that you had been in the offensive backfield. Do you think you could’ve made it in the NFL as a running back?
- You were also the back-up punter in college, is that a skill NFL teams ever discussed with you leading up to the draft? Would you get the call if Brad Maynard went down with an injury mid-game?
- When you first came to the Bears your former college teammate Chris Harris was on the roster, did your relationship with him help you prepare for the adjustments to life in the NFL? How?
- Then before the season even began Chris was traded to Carolina, was that your reality check that pro football is a business first and foremost?
- You were moved to safety in college to replace Chris Harris and then ended up following after him on the Pro level too, does that ever make you compare or judge your play against his?
- Last season you reached the status of starter in the NFL. What was that feeling like? Was it as big or bigger than getting drafted or making the roster as a rookie?
- Playing in the same defensive backfield with fan and teammate favorite Mike Brown over the last two years, what sort of impact did he have on your game?
- Leadership is one of the words in sports that’s often thrown around but not always understood. How important do you think veteran leadership is to this team specifically? And what sort of impact does it have, particularly on younger players like yourself?
- What are the unique parts of your game you bring to the field that no one else does or does as well?
On the field
- Brian Urlacher has gone on record saying he hasn’t always felt Lovie Smith’s Tampa Two defense maximizes what he can do on the field. Do you think the system limits you in any way? Or are there things on the field you’d like to do but haven’t been given the opportunity yet?
- The coaching staff insists the safety positions are interchangeable in this defense, do you feel more comfortable at free or strong safety? Which do you feel better suits your strengths?
- What is the most important facet of your game for you to work on to become a more complete player?
- This year GM Jerry Angelo has stressed durability, particularly at safety. You were hurt during your first significant playing time as a rookie and then needed offseason shoulder surgery this year, are you worried about your body holding give your style of play? Would you or will you change how you play in order to stay healthier in the future?
- Who delivered your welcome to the NFL moment? What about the first play you made that convinced you, you belonged?
- Who are the fastest, strongest, and most difficult to tackle players that you’ve gone up against so far?
- Given the choice would you rather make an interception or deliver a big hit to force a fumble?
- You are working with a new defensive back coach this year John Hoke, what has that been like? How does he coach the position differently than you’ve experienced before?
- You and Corey Graham came to the Bears in the same draft class, now he is making the switch from cornerback to safety, what sort of advice can you give him to make the transition smoother? What sort of asset could he be playing next to you on Sunday’s?
- Last year the Bears secondary ranked 30th in the NFL in yards against, is that something you and your teammates take personally? Even despite your personal accomplishments?
- What sort of difference do you think having Lovie Smith calling plays will make?
- What else about this defense is going to change to improve on last year’s performance?