Northwestern’s Nick Roach Starts at LB for Bears

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By Paul M. Banks has an exclusive with Nick Roach

With the injuries piling up for the Chicago Bears at the linebacker position, some new opportunities for playing time have opened up. Northwestern alum Nick Roach is one athlete who sill soon capitalize on this opportunity being provided by a crisis.  Roach will start the Bears home opener in week 2; and share reps with Jamar Williams at strong-side linebacker, in place of the injured Pisa Tinoisamoa. In the season opener versus Green Bay, Chicago lost their All-World Linebacker Brian Urlacher for the season, and now with Pisa’s loss, they’ll be missing two of their three starters at the position. nickroach

At Halas Hall, I caught up to Roach  and asked him about playing in the huge rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers, and how it compares to other rivalries that he’s been a part of. “I guess it’s similar to Illinois, an old rivalry. All the fans, players, coaches get excited for it, so I guess it’s the same thing. I just found out it’s the oldest rivalry in the NFL, so you can’t beat that,” he responded.

The 6’1” 234 pound Milwaukee product had a solid, if not excessively hyped career at Northwestern. He was named Academic All-Big Ten and defensive MVP as a senior in 2006 despite having his season cut short by a broken leg. He still managed to lead the Wildcats in tackles despite playing in just eight games. This followed a junior season in which he finished second on the team in tackles.

And he’s not the only former Wildcat on the Bears roster. The school’s all-time leader in total offense and  passing, Brett Basanez, is the practice squad quarterback. “Brett and I were pretty close in college. We spent three years together, it’s always good to have a familiar face, and being just kind of up the street from school, the added familiarity {is nice},” Roach stated.

Roach is familiar with the practice squad, it’s the place where he began his NFL journey. The Bears signed him off the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad the day before Thanksgiving in 2007. In 2008 Roach registered 38 of his 40 tackles when he started the final nine games at strong-side linebacker. He had a career-high eight stops in the season finale at Houston. Throughout his professional career, Roach has kept in touch with his former Wildcat coaches:

“Fitz {Current NU Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald} and I we were pretty close. He was my Linebackers Coach for most of the time that I was there, so we kind of have that relationship, we text every now and then, he checks in on me, I check to see how they’re doing.”

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And teammates: “He {Tyrell Sutton} actually called me as soon as he got activated by Carolina. He was just excited. He was also kind of disappointed and down that he got cut, despite having a good preseason but he felt good about going to Carolina.”  Roach also added that he would like to return to Ryan Field for a game this fall, if the Bears and Wildcats schedules line up a chance.

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