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Bears LT Jermon Bushrod has big fan in Saints coach Sean Payton

New Orleans Saints v TampBay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Updated: April 20, 2013 1:14AM

Returning from a seasonlong suspension, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton appeared excited at the owners meeting last month but also admitted he’s not getting a full night’s rest.

“If there are two areas that keep me up at night, it’s, ‘How are we going to improve our pass rush and how are we going to be at left tackle?’ ”

The Bears had a lot to do with the latter problem, signing Jermon Bushrod to a five-year contract that included $17 million guaranteed on the opening day of free agency.

Yet when asked to assess Bushrod, Payton paused, then provided a candid and in-depth reply.

“He kind of epitomizes the type of player we’re looking for from a character standpoint, intelligence,” Payton said at the NFL owners meeting. “He’s a tireless worker, he would know exactly what his weaknesses are. He wouldn’t BS himself.”

A fourth-round pick in 2007, Bushrod stepped in at left tackle during the 2009 preseason and faced former No. 1 pick Mario Williams in a scrimmage.

“Jammal Brown had gotten hurt, and he just kept getting better,” Payton recalled of Bushrod. “So here’s a young guy, out of Towson State, who stepped right in and has blocked some really good pass rushers. But I think [the Bears are] getting someone – and I think this is a good trait – who is steady and available and you know exactly what you have.”

Bushrod takes a big-picture approach to his game, working to strengthen his weaknesses and not taking his strengths for granted.

“It’s about preparation and knowing how to put myself in better situations,” Bushrod said. “Work on those awkward situations you don’t like to be in. It all, honestly, goes back to just grinding and working and figuring out how to do certain things.

“But at the end of the day, you can’t think about yourself. You have to think about the team.”

Bushrod said he appreciated the opportunity to play and learn under Payton. But he said he’s getting much the same vibe from the Bears’ coaching staff, which, of course, includes Aaron Kromer, who coached him in New Orleans.

“I just love the way this team is preparing. It all trickles down from our head coach,” Bushrod said. “Of course, I’m loving the offense, because I’m familiar with it. But it’s not easy. It’s a different offense, so it’s going to take some time to get on the same page, but we’re working hard.”

Bushrod said he’s conveyed to his fellow linemen what Kromer expects of them.

“After a couple of times, he expects us to know what we’re doing,” Bushrod said. “He’s a players’ coach, but you want to be as coachable as possible. I don’t want to say you don’t want to cross him, but he expects you to work hard. He’s high on technique, being in good position, and playing together.

“As an offensive linemen, we have to play together. This ain’t golf.”

For now, in addition to workouts and meetings, Bushrod is trying to get to know his new teammates.

“At first, you kind of got that awkward feeling, because you’re around a bunch of people you don’t know,” he said. “But everyone is being open and being cool. I’m looking forward to the bonds that will grow over the next few months.”

One of those, naturally, will be with quarterback Jay Cutler. The two have talked during lunch already, and he plans to spend time with Cutler and his fellow offensive linemen off the field.

“I just want to get feel for what kind of person he is,” Bushrod said of Cutler. “I’m excited about everything moving forward.

“The more friends you have, the closer you have the more you want to play harder for them.”

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