May 302002
 
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Q&A: Offensive Tackle Chris Bober

by David Oliver

Chris Bober is listed as 6’5″ tall and 305 pounds. He is entering his third season with the Giants as the de facto starting left tackle. Many questions surround Chris, particularly about his ability to handle the speed rushers at the NFL level. Although an undrafted free agent, Chris had a nice career at small school Nebraska-Omaha, where he received All-America selections by several groups.

Chris is an easily approachable and fluent young man. I spoke to him after the last game last season. He had a good grasp of the situation and was looking forward to showing his capabilities. I remember my first look at Chris, in mini-camp his first season. He looked raw and not at all ready. He disappeared off the screen that year, spending some weeks on the practice team before moving up to the squad, but he never got game time. I also remember being wowed by his improvement in camp in his second year on the roster. He got some reps during the pre-season, but was not particularly impressive. However, he kept working, and finally got a few reps in a game at the end of the year.

I asked him what he thought of the situation in which he currently finds himself.

CB: It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, to come from a small school and make it up here for a couple of years, and start. I hope to go out and make the most of it.

I continued by asking him about his confidence, whether there was any self-doubt.

CB: It’s going to be a little different because I’m playing against a lot better guys, but at the same time, I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m looking forward to getting into action out there, looking forward to banging heads. I think all of us on the offensive line are young, so we’re going to be like that. We’re getting ready to go and we’re just going to go out there and play football. We don’t have anything to lose.

I explored just how he was getting ready and talked about the difficulties he might face.

CB: We’ve been watching a lot of film. We’ve changed some things this year. It’s kind of funny because when we change them, the coaches, and the players, because we talk a little bit, agree that we’ve changed some things that obviously make it better; just different ways we do a couple of things that are going to make it so much easier on ourselves to get those blocks done, where before we were trying to do something that was very hard in a lot of different respects.

I asked who had made the changes, was it Coach McNally and he told me that it was Coach Payton, with Coaches McNally and Pope, all working together. Chris went on:

CB: There were so many things that we were doing that these days, where defensive linemen and linebackers are so fast, that you can’t do it like you did in the old days. You have to use angles to your advantage, where before we would take a guy one on one and try to cut him off on the backside; it’s almost impossible because these linemen are so fast. We’re helping each other and we’re getting things done; we’ve changed the plays a little, as far as making them clear and distinct; just changed the numbering system a little bit, and we’ll change some angles so it’s going to help us out. If we can function out there as a unit, I think we can be really successful.

I went on to the speed rushers and asked what he was doing to prepare that element of his game.

CB: I’m watching a lot of film. I try to watch the good tackles, like Boselli. I just try to see what they do against different moves, and at the same time, I try to watch what the defensive linemen are doing to see how they react; just to get it all in my head, so that I have it in my memory, what I can go to; and then during practice and during our sessions when the offensive line works together, try out these things so that if it ever happens in a game, you have already done it, so you can react to it right away.

I asked if he had concerns about this element of the game.

CB: I’m not going to say concerns, but at the same time I know I have to get better. I think that technically, I’ve been real solid. I’ve got to do it over and over so it becomes like a habit for me, so when there’s a lot of pressure out there, it’ll be like second nature to do that. If I keep on working at it, I think it will be all right.

I switched over and talked about run blocking and the power game.

CB: That’s fun. It’s playing football. It’s my job, but at the same time, it’s my passion. If you go out there and give it your best and get after it a little bit, it’s a lot of fun, it’s not like a job.

I asked if he had noticed any of the new guys on defense.

CB: We’ve got some guys out there that are pretty quick. Those linebackers are pretty quick, the new ones. Guthrie is a pretty good rusher, he’s quick and he’s a big guy.

I went back to the line and asked about the rapport among the guys.

CB: As an offensive line, for the last couple of years we all hang out together, we are all buddies, we go to dinner with each other and our wives hang out together; it’s one of those things where we are all friends. It’s going to help out on the field because we’re going to be out there pulling for each other; I know what the guy next to me is going to do, we’re all on the same page. I think it’s going to be beneficial for the offense and for the team in general.

Finally, I told him that Joey in Virginia didn’t think much of the line. Chris laughed and told me that if Joey felt that way, Ben must certainly feel that way. Then he finished the conversation on the upside.

CB: I feel real good about it (the O-Line). There are a lot of people who are doubting us, but that’s ok. Someone is always going to doubt you, especially if you are unproven, and we are unproven, that’s a fact. At the same time, we’re talented, we’re young and we have a very high upside. If we just get out there and get some experience, we’ll be a pretty good group.

Chris has a lot of confidence. He feels ready and is looking forward to the challenge, loves the game and wants to go hit. I’m rooting for him.

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