Bears' Booker back with buddies
It’s almost like Marty Booker never went away.
Back at the Chicago Bears’ veteran minicamp over the weekend, everywhere he looked he saw a familiar face.
"A lot of my old buddies," he said. "My main corps — Olin Kreutz, (Brian) Urlacher, Mike Brown, Lance Briggs, Vash (Nathan Vasher) and all those guys.
"They’re still around. It wasn’t hard to come in and feel like I was in the right place."
The Bears hope Booker fits right in to the receiver corps as he did before being dealt to Miami for defensive end Adewale Ogunleye in 2004.
In five seasons with Chicago, Booker had 23 touchdown catches. During the past four years with Miami, he had 11, including just one last year.
Booker, 31, signed a two-year free-agent deal with Chicago on March 5. The 6-foot, 210-pound wideout from Louisiana-Monroe entered the NFL as a Chicago third-round selection.
Booker said he’s kept in touch with his former teammates since he’s been gone.
"Especially Urlacher," he said. "We’ll talk every now and then. It was a matter of getting in, getting the deal done and then it was ‘glad to have you back.’
"They welcomed me with open arms."
Familiarity helped Booker decide on returning to his beginnings. That and a wide-open battle for receiving jobs.
"I’m just coming in to help these young guys and try to do what I can," he said.
Once he relearns the nuances of Chicago’s offense.
"When you’ve been through as many systems as I have, they’re all the same," he said. "The same concept, just different wordings and how different people call them.
"Right now, I’m just trying to learn the terminology and get all that down. When you get out here (at practice), you work out the kinks and get a feel for everything."
Even though the Bears are trying to regroup after a 7-9 season, to Booker it looks like he landed in paradise.
"It was tough last year after going 1-15," he said of the Dolphins. "To come back and to walk in here, there’s just a whole different vibe. To walk in and feel appreciated, it’s unbelievable. I’m glad to be back."
Receivers coach Darryl Drake says Booker "is fitting in very well. He already fit in well with the guys.
"The guys have a great deal of respect for him. He can still play. He still has a great deal of ability. He’s still in the process of learning everything terminology-wise. He’s done a tremendous job because he’s a veteran guy and understands concepts.
"I look for him to be a tremendous asset for us."
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Reach him at 815-987-1381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.