Bears hire Emery as GM

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Bears hire Emery as GM

The last time Phil Emery was a member of the Bears organization, the likes of Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Olin Kreutz, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher were acquired via the NFL draft.

All that is expected now is for Emery to deliver something close to that.

Emery emerged from a field of five semifinalists and two finalists to become the fifth general manager in franchise history, reaching agreement with the Bears on a multi-year contract with the prime directive of getting the Bears firmly into the ranks of the NFC elite.

Emery interviewed Friday with Bears President Ted Phillips for the second time and was then approved of by team ownership as the successor to Jerry Angelo, fired shortly after the end of the 2011 season.

The end-game selection process began with five candidates interviewing with Phillips and other members of the Bears front office: Emery, Jason Licht from the New England Patriots, the other finalist along with Emery; Jimmy Raye from the San Diego Chargers; Marc Ross from the New York Giants; and Tim Ruskell, currently Bears player personnel director. It was not immediately clear whether Ruskell will remain with the organization.

Among the major responsibilities, short term and long, waiting for Emery are the 2012 draft, in which the Bears hold four picks in the first three rounds, and free agency, in which the Bears are expected to be an impact player in search of a wide receiver.

Coach Lovie Smith is in place for this season and is under contract for 2013. Smiths future after this season will be an Emery decision in the future, including whether or not to extend Smiths contract assuming a strong 2012 season.

This will be Emerys second stint with the Bears after working as an area scout for the franchise from 1998-2004.

From 2004-08, Emery served as director of college scouting for the Atlanta Falcons. During that time, two of the three Falcons first round draft picks developed into Pro Bowlers: WR Roddy White (2005) and QB Matt Ryan (2008). Emery also worked as a regional scout for the Falcons leading up to the 2009 draft. The Falcons made two trips to the playoffs during that time including an appearance in the 2004 NFC Championship game.

Emery, a native of Michigan, is a 31-year football veteran, starting his career serving as a student assistant at his alma mater, Wayne State, before joining Central Michigan as a graduate assistant (1981-82). He went on to become the offensive linestrength and conditioning coach at Western New Mexico for three seasons (1982-84) before becoming a defensive line coach at Georgetown College from 1984-85.

Emery went on to serve as the defensive line and strength and conditioning coach at Saginaw Valley State from 1985-87 before joining Tennessee as the Volunteers assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1987-91.

His tenure at Tennessee was highlighted by back-to-back Southeastern Conference Championships in 1989 and 1990. He made his last collegiate stop as director of strength and conditioning services and as an associate professor at the U.S. Naval Academy (1991-98), where the Midshipmen won the Aloha Bowl in 1996.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule: