LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Orlando Pace said he's feeling healthy for the first time in several years.
"One thing about injuries is when you're injured, you have a new desire to play football, a new love for the game, a renewed love for the game," said Pace, whom the St. Louis Rams waived to clear salary-cap room earlier this offseason. "So I'm really excited to be here because I think the Bears offer different challenges for myself also. So I think it'll be good for me and my career."
Pace, 33, missed eight games in 2006 after tearing his left tricep and 15 games in 2007 with a torn right labrum and rotator cuff. Last season, he sat out two games because of a sprained knee.
"When you're released as a player, you want to go out and prove that you can still do it, and I think that was my situation," Pace said. "I wanted to come out here and prove that I can still play at a high level and do it for years and without any setbacks. So I'm excited about the opportunity."
"During Lovie's time in St. Louis, he would come over, and before practice, he would kind of get stuff going between myself and the defensive linemen," Pace recalled. "He'd say, 'Yeah, this guy's going to do this to you today, or this guy's gonna do that to you today.'"
"(The Ravens) did a great job recruiting me and those type of things, but just knowing Lovie from years back, I think it made the transition easy, made me feel more comfortable," Pace said.
Ready to contend
"I'm comfortable playing left tackle, and right tackle would have been a stretch for me," Pace said. "But just in speaking with Lovie and the coaches, they felt that that (playing left tackle) was better for me. That made Chicago even more of a sweeter deal for me."
Pace, who blocked for quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger on St. Louis' artificial turf, believes playing on a grass surface at Chicago's Soldier Field can lengthen his career, and he envisions success for the Bears after Cutler's arrival.
"I've played with some really great quarterbacks, and I've played with some, not to slight anybody, but I think there's a difference in your team, just the leadership," Pace said. "And if (Cutler) can get the ball out, and if the offensive line can protect him, I think he'll be fine, he'll be great."
"He was probably in my house a few days before I came here," Pace said of Holt. "I think he's just out searching (for a team). I'm probably recruiting here in Chicago, and hopefully, it works out."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press