Tinoisamoa has big fan in Smith

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Pisa Tinoisamoa remains somewhat of a mystery in Chicago.

Only one season removed from leading the St. Louis Rams with 135 tackles, injuries limited the veteran linebacker to just two starts for the Bears in 2009. Because of that short time on the field -- Tinoisamoa failed to finish a game last season -- fans aren't quite sure what to expect out of the starting strong side linebacker.

But Lovie Smith, who also coached the linebacker in St. Louis, knows exactly what type of difference a healthy Tinoisamoa can make on the Bears' defense.

"I think we have another playmaker [in Tinoisamoa] at the linebacker position," Smith said. "Pisa isn't your traditional maybe iso-type linebacker, [or] big plugger, [but] he can play in space. He has some defensive back-type skills as far as playing in space, breaking on the ball, and he has good hands. He can rush the passer, and he plays with a lot of excitement."

"I can't recall a day that I've seen Pisa where he wasn't excited about playing football. He has a smile on his face and just loves the game. Hopefully he's going to add a different dimension to our defense. Expecting big things out of him this year."

The same could be said for fellow strong-side linebacker Nick Roach. Although Roach, who missed time in the preseason after a left knee scope, is expected to open the regular season in a backup role, the Bears have never been shy about using four linebackers in certain situations.