Andre Gurode got the call from the Bears this week: Cmon up. The five-time Pro Bowl centerguard was ready, not because of what hed done over the past half-decade in the NFL, but because hed been working out harder than he would have been had he been with an NFL team.
Gurode was spending four solid hours, five days a week, at the Michael Johnson Performance training center in McKinney, Tex., northeast of Fort Worth. Getting back into the NFL regimen might be a break.
I went every day from about 8 til noon, Gurode said. We had different parts of workouts, from lifting weights to footwork drills to conditioning, and after conditioning, some football drills. By the time we were finished, it was four hours.
Gurode, who turned 34 last March, was investing the time and effort without any promises. And he signed with the Bears without any promises, whether for a starting job this season or one in the future.
They never said anything like that, Gurode said. They said a couple of guys had gotten injured and they wanted me to come in, learn the play book and be ready in case they needed me.
He has played both center and guard, in the mold of about half the Bears offensive line: Roberto Garza, Edwin Williams, Chris Spencer.
Any way they need me, if they need me to contribute, Im going to be ready, Gurode said.
Not always the easiest job.
Theres a lot of similarity because the NFL is a copy league, Gurode said. At the same time there are a lot of distinct differences this playbook has and it can be difficult. Im going to settle myself down and learn this one.
Part of the immediate task is fitting in with new teammates. In at least one case, that was done before he ever got on a plane for Chicago.
Andre is a good friend, said right tackle Jonathan Scott. We have mutual friends. We also live in the Dallas area and we work out together in the offseason. I kind of picked up a few traits from him. Hes a Pro Bowler. The good thing is that hes on our side now. Im kind of excited for him and ready to go to work for him.