Are the Bears too young?

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Are the Bears too young?

Eventually any story about NFL players getting old is bound to be accurate. Just not right now with respect to the Bears, in the mind of the person whose future is most closely aligned with 30-something veterans like Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher.

The calendar is inexorable but looking at just the numbers is missing the far bigger picture, according to coach Lovie Smith.

Briggs, Peppers, Tillman, Urlacher, center Roberto Garza all received some level of Pro Bowl honor this week. None missed a single game in 2011. The four defensive players missed none in 2010; Garza missed two to have in-season knee surgery.

To me you have to first establish, are they breaking down? Smith told CSNChicago.com. And they are not. Julius Peppers I dont care what the Pro Bowl alternate status says is the best defensive end in the league. How many games did Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman miss?

Obviously you need young players to come along at every position at some point, but we are not seeing players breaking down at our core positions.

Young in many places

Smith is under no illusions about the need for a productive talent pipeline.

But the oldest of the Bears four top defensive tackles is 27 (Matt Toeaina), with Amobi Okoye, Stephen Paea and Henry Melton 25 or younger and Melton selected as a Pro Bowl alternate. The Bears have explored re-signing Okoye to a longer-term deal.

Smith got to a Super Bowl with an offensive line of veterans (John Tait-Ruben Brown-Olin Kreutz-Garza-Fred Miller), all of whom except Kreutz were free-agent hires.

Lance Louis is expected to resume a starting guard spot. Gabe Carimi, JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams are all draft picks and 26 or younger. Centerguard Chris Spencer is 29; recently re-signed guard Edwin Williams is 25.

Across the offensive line, and really over the whole offense, the guys in key positions are young, Smith said. You always reach a point where you do have to go through a transition at every position.

We have two first-round, young offensive linemen (Carimi, C. Williams). You look at JMarcus Webb, Lance Louis, theyre all first-contract guys. You like that. We have a young quarterback Jay Cutler is 28 and all our tailbacks Matt Forte, 26; Kahlil Bell, 25; Armando Allen, 23 are all young.

Corey Graham, the NFC Pro Bowl special teams selectee, is 27. Devin Hester turned 29 in November. Pro Bowl alternate kicker Robbie Gould turned 30 on Friday.

Transition process

Time will exact its toll. Urlacher, 33, is signed only through the 2012 season and if he is held out Sunday because of knee soreness, you may be looking at his eventual successor in Nick Roach, 27, whom some in the organization see as the prototypical middle linebacker in the Smith defensive schemes.

Linebacker, along with wide receiver and cornerback, will be the priorities of the offseason along with a pass-rushing defensive end. Receiver and cornerback are search areas for immediate-impact players.

But linebacker is a spot where the Bears hope a transition will work, as it has this year at safety, from veteran Chris Harris to youth in Chris Conte and Major Wright.

We transitioned this year at the safety position, playing a rookie in Conte, Major Wright getting more reps, Smith said. Our backup linebackers were new guys.

As for the longer-tenured veterans, theyve played a little bit, Smith said, but I feel like they have a lot more football left in them.

CSN to chronicle Bears vs Packers rivalry on next installment of Bears Classics

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CSN to chronicle Bears vs Packers rivalry on next installment of Bears Classics

‘Bears Classics’ presented by Xfinity to debut Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT -- Exclusively on CSN

Narrated by Chicago Bears/Pro Football Hall of Fame legend DICK BUTKUS

Chicago, IL (December 6, 2016) – CSN Chicago and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Xfinity Emmy award-winning documentary series when the network will chronicle the history of pro football’s longest and, without question, fiercest rivalry: the Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Debuting Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT exclusively on CSN, Bears Classics will reflect back to the conflict that began in 1921 when the National Football League's charter franchise, the Chicago Bears, met an independent team that joined the league that year, the Packers from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  With more than 1300 NFL games played for each franchise, the win-loss records are nearly even as the Bears hold an overall advantage, while the Packers lead in total championships (13-9).  From the big city on Lake Michigan to the small town some 200 miles north, the Bears & Packers continue to make their mark as combatants in pro football's oldest rivalry.  

This special edition of CSN’s Emmy-winning Bears Classics documentary series, subtitled The Longest War - Bears versus Packers, will once again be narrated by Chicago Bears legend/Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.  Butkus played for the Bears from 1965-1973 and is credited for redefining the middle linebacker position.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.  CSN’s Sarah Lauch is the Executive Producer of Bears Classics, Willie Parker is the Producer, and Kevin Cross is the network’s Senior Director of News & Original Content.

In addition to the documentary narration by Butkus, among the numerous players/media/execs interviewed in this edition of Bears Classics include exclusive interviews with the following individuals:

GALE SAYERS

Bears Halfback (1965-71)

MIKE DITKA

Bears Tight End (1961-76); Bears Head Coach (1982-92)

BRIAN URLACHER

Bears Linebacker (2000-12)

LANCE BRIGGS

Bears Linebacker (2003-14)

DAN HAMPTON

Bears Defensive End/Tackle (1979-90)

GEORGE MCCASKEY

Bears Chairman

LOVIE SMITH

Bears Head Coach (2004-12)

JIM MILLER

Bears Quarterback (1999-2002)

DENNIS McKINNON

Bears Wide Receiver (1983-89)

BRETT FAVRE

Packers Quarterback (1992-2007)

AARON RODGERS

Packers Quarterback (2005-present)

JERRY KRAMER

Packers Right Guard (1958-68)

JAMES LOFTON

Packers Wide Receiver (1978-86)

Please note the following quotes from CSN’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: The Longest War - Bears versus Packers, debuting Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT:

MIKE DITKA (on the Bears-Packers rivalry): "It was a war based on respect. I never disliked them. I would say they had something we wanted because they had a better team and had championships, and we finally did get one.”

BRETT FAVRE (on Bears & Packers Hall of Famers): "I was talking and said 'surely, the Packers have the most Hall of Fame members.’ Well, we're four short; it's the Bears that have more. So we still have a few more to go...says a lot about the Bears.”

BRIAN URLACHER (on playing against Packers QBs Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers): "Aaron’s a little more mobile…Brett ran, but he didn’t like run to create.  Aaron kind of dances around back there and will wait until the guys break open, Brett would just throw it no matter what.”

JERRY KRAMER (on the teachings of Packers legendary head coach Vince Lombardi): "We never got beat. The clock ran out when the other team had more points when we did, but we never lost a game. So it’s that constant…will to win and that will to excel.  Those are the things that endure.”

GALE SAYERS (on Packers/Bears games at Wrigley Field): "You came out here and you knew that the fans would be on your side.  It would be different if they were in Green Bay or something, hell, they’d kill you, but here, no way.  And we played Green Bay on that field a long time.”

CSN will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Saturday, December 17 at 10:00 PM and again on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) at 7:00 PM.  Details regarding January’s premiere episode of Bears Classics will be announced in the coming weeks.  In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics.  Plus, CSNChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from CSN’s team of Bears experts. 

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

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AP

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam was found dead at the age of 42 in Colorado on Monday night.

Boulder Police say there was no evidence of foul play, according to cubuffs.com.

Salaam was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft after a standout collegiate career in which he won the Heisman Trophy award in 1994. 

"The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today," Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said. "We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

Salaam played with the Bears from 1995-1997. As a rookie, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, but only combined for 608 rushing yards over his last two years with the Bears.

Salaam went on to play for both the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns in 1999. He briefly spent time in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003 before ending his football career with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2004.