Emery will change Bears, but not in a rush

622100.png

Emery will change Bears, but not in a rush

If Phil Emery believes the Bears need to upgrade at wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line or anywhere else, he isnt saying. And the new Bears general manager doesnt plan to, either.

If getting running back Matt Forte signed to a long-term contract or whether the Bears will use their franchise tag. Same thing.

When it comes time to publicly assess our needs or players that we have targeted, we will not do that, Emery said on Monday at his introductory press conference at Halas Hall.

I feel that is a competitive disadvantage to do so. We will know internally what our needs are We will not give away our competitive advantage to outline who those individuals or at what position they are. What is going to be targeted are good football players, producers, dynamic football players who can help this team grow.

The Bears believe that growing began in earnest with the hiring of Emery to replace Jerry Angelo, general manager for the last 11 years.
Philosophy changes coming

As expected, player personnel director Tim Ruskell did not stay around Halas Hall long after failing to make the cut as a finalist. Ruskell departed Lake Forest Monday morning after an announced mutually agreed upon parting of the ways.

His exit leaves Emery without a college or pro scouting director, two jobs that had been combined in Jerry Angelos final years. Ruskell was primarily responsible for both areas.

Emery said that he has a planned organizational structure in mind but will not make major changes until after the draft.

What will be happening as of Monday is a shift toward a Bears version of the Patriot system, which Emery learned working for former New England executives Thomas Dimitroff, with Atlanta, and Scott Pioli, with Kansas City.

And while Lovie Smith treasures speed over size, its a big-mans game, Emery said. There are smaller players that have success but overall, history will show you this is a big-mans game.

The Lovie Smith relationship

Emery took the job with the understanding that Smith will remain as head coach for 2012, with a contract that runs through 2013. No relationship is more important in the immediate future of an organization that prizes consistency.

Weve had consistency in our coaching staff, Emery said. I have great respect for what Lovie has done, the consistency, the teaching, being systematic.

When I watched Lovie Smiths defense, those players played fast because they know the scheme. So consistency is important.

Emery stressed that he and Smith would develop their plan on players that they agree upon. That would also include the plan for the player after the draft, not simply on what is done on draft day.

Emery will have final say on the 53-man roster.

I have that authority, Emery said. But thats not where my head is. My mind is on helping everyone in this buiiding advance and have a consistent winner.

Franchise-tagging

He, like Angelo, will have the primary say over what the Bears are willing to do for running back Matt Forte.

Forte is unlikely to be heartened by Emery replacing Angelo, who made no secret of his comfort level with the franchise tag in the event that contract agreement cannot be reached.

Emery knows where the tag came from and said he considers it fair to both sides.

It is a tool that has been collectively bargained, Emery said. It is fair to the player and fair to the club. Thats part of the collective bargaining agreement.

When Emery was a college scout for the Atlanta Falcons, he evaluated Forte extensively. He has done some evaluating since then.

But in terms of franchise tags and where we are, thats an internal matterthat we will not discuss as a competitive matter and showing our opponents our cards.

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: