View from the Moon: Olsen improving blocking

View from the Moon: Olsen improving blocking

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
11:34 AM

By John Mullin

Dan, Dan, Dan, Christmas is over but the Grinch is still here.

Checking in with Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel for our regular Thursday visit on WSCR-AM 670s The Danny Mac Show and poor Greg Olsen, whos developing into a respectable all-around tight end gets a shelling.

Listen to John 'Moon' Mullin's complete appearance

Olsen has clearly gotten and read the memo that blocking matters in the Mike Martz offense. While Olsen is not yet going to invite comparisons with Mike Ditka or John Mackey, Spiegs and I think that Olsen merits a stroke or two for getting it and improving at something hes not exceptional at.

Mac isnt having it, giving Olsen a hockey facial for not figuring this all out until this, his fourth NFL season. But my thought here is that Olsen was in a Ron Turner West Coast scheme his first three years and that system exploits defenses with the pass-catching of tight ends. Bill Walsh always maintained that the tight end was the overlooked key to why his system was especially dangerous.

My sense of Olsen is that hes akin to Val Kilmer look-alike Ryan Wetnight, an undersized tight end who played for Turner at Stanford and with the Bears. Wetnight was an exceptional receiver who still ranks in the Bears top 25 all-time in catches (172). Olsen has flown past Wetnight this year and ranks 17th all-time with 194.

Danny, leave the boy be. He'll be fine.

Whether the Seahawks will be is another matter and I dont think Seattle gets past the Bears this weekend. I also thought that the Hawks are a sort of pocket-Americas Team, a total underdog in a football-loving nation that loves underdogs.

Spiegs I think changed my thinking. First, there are too many people stung by the perceived injustice of a 7-9 team even being in the playoffs, let alone getting a home game (vs. New Orleans). He thought the Packers were more likely Americas darling-to-be and I think I agree with that. Aaron Rodgers is likeable and colorful (and, like, really really good) and any team with 14 players on IR, including eight starters, is an underdog by definition.

Likeable probably doesnt apply in large measure to Jay Cutler, which is a topic of amusement in a week awash in football. Cutler doesnt care about his public perception, or at least that whats said, and which I dont particularly believe, but thats for another time.

Cutler is certainly aware of what a good public face can mean to a post-football career in broadcasting but thats just not him. Never has been, not here, not in Denver. If hes not catering to image, hey, he makes 10 million a year and if he wins, the imagell be fine.

It does surprise me a little that he doesnt have more fun with those media sessions the way Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher do, even if they dont necessarily like doing them. But thats him and thats his choice.

Assuming the Bears keep playing, well check in next Thursday at 10.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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: