Peppers not out for individual glory

Updated: July 31, 2010, 1:30 AM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The new Bears offense under Mike Martz might be drawing the most attention as training camp gets under way, but it's their new 6-foot-7, 283-pound sack artist whose name is being dropped most.

"It's only normal, I'm the new guy," Julius Peppers said, fresh off his first day of Bears training camp Friday. "I came in with a lot of hype. So it's normal for them to mention me first because there's so much attention placed on me being here. It's a role I've always had, being one of the more popular players on the team, so I'm used to it. But we still have to go out and perform.

"Just because I'm here doesn't really mean anything."

The Bears defense has to hope it means a lot eventually because the five-time Pro Bowler signed the offseason's richest free agent contract at $91.5 million over six years, including $42 million guaranteed.

In addition to his double-digit sacks in six of his eight NFL seasons, Peppers' nine blocked kicks since 1992 ranks second in the NFL in that span.

But he wouldn't reveal any specific goals he had for his first season as a Bear.

"I don't really put a lot of stock in personal statistics, personal achievements and accomplishments," he said. "That stuff is good to have for your résumé but at the end of the day, we're playing for the ultimate goal and that's the Super Bowl. And if you don't get that, the individual things don't mean anything."

Bears coach Lovie Smith surprised some by saying Thursday he was "excited about us being able to blitz more," the thought being that with Peppers applying pressure up front, blitzing wouldn't be as necessary.

Peppers had the same thought.

"It's good to blitz sometimes to keep people honest and it's a good change of pace," he said. "But with the guys we have out front, we have the responsibility of pressuring the quarterback and if we do that as well as we should, blitzing shouldn't be necessary as much."

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.