Smith, Carroll relaxed heading into matchup

Smith, Carroll relaxed heading into matchup

Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
3:06 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

There may be some underlying angst in Seattle or Chicago about Sundays game between the Bears and Seahawks. But it doesnt appear to involve the opposing coaches.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll opened up a cell phone and took a mock call when a media phone went off during a press conference this week.

Lovie Smith can be inscrutable, enigmatic, (your adjective here). But on Friday, after finishing off the final day of practice before the divisional-round game Sunday, relaxed might not even depict his mood.

Lets do this again next week, Smith suggested as the media gathering broke up.

Next week would of course refer to the final day of preparation for the NFC Championship game, the third such game for which Smith would be preparing. He was the defensive coordinator for the 2001 St. Louis Rams team that began with a bye week and went on to win the conference championship. He coached the Bears past Seattle in 2006 and on to a conference championship.

This time...

While Smith and the Bears can ill afford to look beyond the heavy underdog Seahawks, an inevitable thought strayed into who the Bears might like to win Saturday night when the Green Bay Packers go against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Who's playing? Smith deadpanned. I know about that game Sunday.

Assuming the Bears get past Seattle: If the Packers win, the Bears host the NFC title game, as they did in 2006. If Atlanta wins, the Bears go to the Georgia Dome.

So really it doesn't matter, Smith said. "Of course you'd love to play another playoff game at home Green Bay. But if we have to go on the road, you might as well go inside to play. We're a fast football team, so it doesn't really matter.

If you believe in theater omens, however, this might not have been a good one.

Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night is a timeless performers bromide. The Bears have had a succession of good rehearsals (the NFL calls them practices), so does that mean?

I know it's kind of coach talk, but we really have a great week of practice, Smith said. You expect that when you play a game like this. Guys can't wait to play. We're healthy and we feel like we have a good game plan, playing at home in the elements, everything you look for this time of the year.

We have to play better than we did last time. They deserved to win that football game. Normally you don't get a second chance. We need to make the most of our second chance.

The not-new kid

Carroll edged into his job in the nick of time this year, both on the college and NFL levels. He got out of USC before the firestorm of allegations, violations and sanctions engulfed him and the program. And he snagged a five-year contract to coach the Seahawks averaging a reported 6.5 million a season. This years hires, with the exception of Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco, are netted about half that.

Carroll is far from an NFL newbie. He took the 1997 New England Patriots (slaughtering a Rick Mirer-led Bears team 31-3 along the way) to a wild-card win after a failed one-year stint with the New York Jets in 1994.

He looks young but hes the second-oldest coach in the NFL, said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Hes an old-school guy and most of his talks to the team go back to guys like John Wooden or Bud Grant or people he played with or coached with. Stories that none of us hardly remember...

I dont see him as a college coach. I know he spent the last nine years at USC as a college coach but I see him as a long-time NFL coach who happened to go to USC to perfect his coaching style, and he was able to do it.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

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: