Keeping Score: Thursday visit with Mac and Spiegs

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Keeping Score: Thursday visit with Mac and Spiegs

Ah, sometimes its fun to be a throwback.
Danny Mac had a last "whaddaya think?" question during my weekly Thursday 10 a.m. visit with Matt and him on the The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM The Score 670. How did I think the Green Bay Packers fare Saturday night in San Francisco?
Overall, the Packers will always be in a game as long as they have No. 12 upright. But I said that it being a night game in San Francisco made me squeamish; besides the Jason Campbell Experience on a Monday night this season, the Bears 2009 game there -- in which Jay Cutler threw five interceptions, one to a defensive tackle -- was perhaps the worst single game Id ever covered.
Throw in the annual humiliation of Big 10 teams against Pac-10ers in the Rose Bowl, and I observed that when Midwest teams go out to the West Coast for big games, especially at night, bad things go happen.
The phrase was one that Danny and then-sidekick Terry Boers once popularized when they were The Heavy Fuel Crew in earlier Score days. Danny and I do go back a while so it was fun and a good laugh to throw out a throwback phrase from our past.
The Bears coaching search is still the news of the day, and the guys were chatting about what sort of strictures might be in place based on general manager Phil Emerys feelings on various issues. For instance, Emery said a coach would have to convince him that the Bears could run a 3-4 with the personnel as its now constituted. And Emerys use of franchise quarterback in close proximity to Cutler makes you curious as to whether that means Emery is effectively telling the new coach that hes going to be saddled with the general manager's choice of quarterback for however long Cutlers (presumed) new contract runs.
But what sense I have of Emery from his first year is that he is a consensus builder rather than strict top-down boss. It means that, just as the organization was when it told him he had to keep Lovie Smith for one more year, Emery will not be welded to Cutler if the new coach has a good rationale for taking the roster and offense in a new direction.
And they agreed with my feeling that there is nothing wrong with Emery using the interview list to add to his knowledge base around the NFL. The reason is that its also normal for candidates to pick up some insights the other direction, about the Bears, during interviews.
Bottom line, there are now eight head-coaching vacancies. Only two teams (Buffalo, Kansas City) have filled theirs. The Bears arent ahead or behind in the process so if Emery is being methodical, hes perhaps no more so than a bunch of other NFL teams.

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: