After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him Friday morning, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye didn’t wait to see how many teams would be interested in him.
He just wanted to return to the Bears.
“My agent gave me an option and said, ‘Do you want to wait it out?’ I said, ‘No, I want to go back to Chicago,’ ” Okoye recalled.
Just then, as he finished his sentence, Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman did a special handshake with him and welcomed him back.
“It feels great,” said Okoye, who will wear the same number (91) and put his stuff in the same locker. “It feels like I never left. Glad to be back as Bear, and I’m looking forward to a championship season.”
Okoye was intrigued by the Bucs and the prospect of starting for a team featuring a lot of new players and a head coach, Greg Schiano.
Okoye was impressed by Schiano’s pitch, and he signed a one-year deal with the Bucs. But, in June, Okoye needed a scope on his right knee, and he returned too fast.
“I went into camp a little too early. I should have taken a couple more weeks, to get through the last stage of recovery,” he said. “So I didn’t do that, and that’ what caused the inflammation.”
He appeared in the Bucs preseason opener, but Okoye missed the final three games.
That apparently frustrated Schiano.
“You can be a little cautious at times,” Schiano said of Okoye, according to the Tampa Times Thursday night. “We’ve tried to do that. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out and earn a spot.”
Recently, Schiano also said that the Bucs took a risk with Okoye because of his “history with that knee.”
Those comments stung, Okoye said.
“It’s too bad to hear the unfortunate things he’s saying about my knee,” Okoye said. “It’s kind of unfair of him to say what he said to the media, painting a bad picture like my knee was always bad.
“It really makes me question the character of he himself, because, while I was there, he was trying to mold us to be kind of like him. It made me question all the things he was teaching me, as far as TBA — Trust, Belief and Accountability — his way of doing things,” Okoye said. “It’s like, ‘Wow, what type of guy is this?’ That really hurt.”
After receiving an injury settlement, Okoye signed a one-year deal with the Bears.
“Fits like a glove, and being here last year, and knowing what I like to do, it’s perfect,” Okoye said.