Thomas: "I'm ready to make my mark"

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Thomas: "I'm ready to make my mark"

The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract yesterday with free agent wide receiver Devin Thomas. Thomas is coming off last years Super Bowl run with the New York Giants. Foxsports.coms Alex Marvez and myself caught up with Devin Thomas last night on SiriusXM NFL radios Late Hits to discuss joining the Chicago Bears and his assessment of his NFL career thus far.

Chicago is a team with great tradition and history, Thomas said. They have been a team I always admired growing upI understand that they are a hard-nosed team, and thats the type of player I am. I feel very blessed to be going to the Chicago Bears.

This will be Devins fifth NFL season since being selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. Thomas acknowledged his pro career has been underwhelming so far but stated, I finally learned how to be a professional in New York. It allowed me to understand and really know how to maintain myself and play this game in a winning program.

Thomas has a history of consistent special teams play since college while playing for Michigan State. Thomas has continued his special teams production in the pros, averaging 24 yards per kick return and recovering the key muffed punt in New York's NFC Championship game victory last year against San Francisco. Thomas is confident about playing special teams for the Bears, stating, Im an athlete, however they want to use me, Im ready to do it. Im not shying away from anything.

As for the Bears' renewed focus to run the football under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, Thomas commented you gotta earn your keep. Blocking for your running backs, you gotta bring your hard hat.

Thomas jumped at the opportunity to sign with the Bears because Chicago was gung-ho to sign me and ready to make a move.

Coming off a Super Bowl victory where he celebrated in tears with his son, Thomas agreed with my assessment that he is a dangerous player right now in his career. Thomas stated, Ive had to bite down and dig deep. Im ready to make my mark.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: