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Khaseem Greene no longer greenhorn in second season

Updated: July 30, 2014 1:56AM

BOURBONNAIS — Even the best play Khaseem Greene made last year was ripped — by his own people in northern New Jersey.

In the unenviable position of replacing injured Lance Briggs at weak-side linebacker when the Bears’ defense already was in the throes of a monumental collapse, the rookie from Rutgers gave the Bears a chance to beat the Vikings at the Metrodome in Week 13 when he intercepted a pass by Matt Cassel off a deflection at the goal line and returned it 49 yards before he was tackled by Cassel.

‘‘I got a lot of heat for that,’’ said Greene, 25, a fourth-round draft pick who grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. ‘‘When I went home to Jersey, little kids were coming up to me like, ‘Man, you couldn’t make the quarterback miss?’ So it was a little embarrassing.’’

It was that kind of year for Greene, who found himself in the right place at the wrong time: an NFL starter, but on a defense that would allow 399 yards per game in his four starts.

‘‘I was OK; I could be a lot better,’’ he said. ‘‘I got my uncles and brothers at home, they’re big critics. They told me the same thing: ‘You could have done a lot better. You did OK. But now it’s time to put it all together — get back to playing more like you usually do.’ ’’

Greene made no excuses for the difficult circumstances surrounding his opportunity.

‘‘It’s football,’’ he said. ‘‘We know coming into it every day that these things happen. Can’t make excuses.’’

But Greene is looking forward to showing that he has learned from the experience.

‘‘Coming into my rookie year, you don’t know what to expect,’’ Greene said. ‘‘You don’t want to make mistakes. You want to be perfect. You want everybody to know you belong. You want to impress everybody.

‘‘Now I’ve got my feet under me. I know what to expect and what it takes. I have a grasp of understanding the playbook. So the things I used to worry about last year as a rookie, I don’t worry about now.’’

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring said he was very pleased with Greene.

‘‘He’s making strides,’’ Herring said. ‘‘He’s improving. His weight is down. His attitude is great. His commitment is good. He has a chance to be a very good linebacker here.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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