Miller: Bears need "Homeland Security"

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Miller: Bears need "Homeland Security"

How many clichd times do we hear professional athletes say I dont want to be the guy to let the team down? In a weeks span, two former Dallas Cowboy players have basically derailed any realistic shot of the Bears making the playoffs. In my opinion, they may have also answered some recent questions concerning Bears GM Jerry Angelos consideration of retirement. One Cowboy who the Bears signed is veteran running back, Marion Barber, who doesnt know his main assignment when executing the four minute offense. The other would be Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd who allegedly spent more time lining up drug deals than any effort exerted playing for the Bears. Honestly, you cant make this stuff up!

It was absolutely astonishing to witness the lack of awareness that Barber displayed last Sunday against the Broncos because I love the guy! He has always played physical and was a devastating blocker in Dallas on third downs, but the bigger question is why would Dallas draft the running back position on three different occasions with Barber on the roster? Just to remind Bears fans, Dallas drafted Felix Jones in the first round of 2008's draft, Tashard Choice also in 2008, and DeMarco Murray this past April. Dallas had already drafted Julius Jones in 2004 in the first round out of Notre Dame, the same year they drafted Barber. Why draft the position subsequently that high when Jones and Barber should have been coming into their prime?

Hurd is a completely different situation. I can speak from experience that you can be in the same building as a co-workerplayer and be shocked with what their life entails. I have had the opportunity to play with some great players. One of them was running back Bam Morris, prior to his stint with the Bears; I played with him in Pittsburgh. I believe head coach Bill Cowher, my teammates, and the Steelers organization loved the player, but hated the baggage. Bam ultimately spent time in federal prison for his transgressions. Bam has since come clean acknowledging how many teammates, coaches, and organizations he let down, but why is history repeating itself?

It begs the bigger question currently facing the NFL and its 32 organizations about protecting the brandshield of the NFL. Every team conducts its business differently concerning background checks, medical competitive advantage, and adding inherent risk which explains the success or failure of every NFL team. Organizations will take note of Hurd realizing they need to do even more.

The timeline suggests the Bears honestly did not know the transgressions of Hurd. This is with the help of former FBI agents employed by the NFL. But I will say this: the team may want to employ a higher integrated power specifically related to protecting the Bears brand so this debacle does not repeat itself again. Homeland Security! I will have to do more research on how Homeland Security is affiliated with the NFL, but I do know of universities that have been so proactive with Homeland Security in terms of background checks concerning employees; background checks so in-depth that on game day, they know every outsourced employee in their stadium. Many were denied. How do the Bears not know everything about an employee that is within the building seven days a week? Better yet, why is the organization letting the team and coaching staff down? Too clich, I guess.

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: