Chicago Sun-Times

Angelo says Bears doing due diligence when it comes to medical concerns

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The last thing Jerry Angelo wants to go through again is a recurrence of the Chris Williams' situation. The Bears' general manager says the team will take a "more disciplined'' approach to considering players this weekend with medical issues or red flags.

The organization drafted Williams 14th overall last year knowing that he had a "stabile herniation'' in his back. Putting Angelo and the team at ease in the decision process was Williams' history at Vanderbilt. He hadn't missed games and his practice history was nearly spotless. The back wasn't an issue ... until training camp began. Williams looked like a hobbled old man arriving and leaving practice for two weeks. The club said the issue was muscular at first, that he had spasms. It didn't get better. Then, it was announced he'd had surgery. Turns out the surgery was on the same disc that had a "stabile herniation." As Angelo and trainer Tim Bream explained, you can have an injury to a different part of the disc and it can be completely unrelated to the previous "stabile herniation."

A firestorm erupted and the bottom line was Williams' rookie season was essentially wiped out. He played on special teams and in garbage time in the second half of the year. The team believes he'll be no worse for the wear moving forward.

"Last year we made a conscious decision and we talked about it as an organization and [college scouting director] Greg [Gabriel] and I spent a lot of time on this too, but yes, we are looking at that and we are going to be more disciplined in our approach to taking players with medical concerns, and I want to emphasize that,'' Angelo said Tuesday. "There are in my opinion more players and it was asked about what makes the draft more difficult, that's one of them, there just seems to be more wear and tear on players. Maybe it's the way we evaluate them, we're so finite at the combine.

"There's probably almost, they tell me between 1,200 and 1,500 MRI's taken at the combine which is an inordinate amount. I mean we all have something wrong with us but so we know these players and there's just more things about a player from a medical standpoint that we're being exposed to but we have to do a good job of being more disciplined because we've had some issues. But I go back to Rex Grossman, never missed a game, never missed a practice. I look at Cedric Benson same way, never missed a game, never missed a= practice. They had great physicals coming out, but they were hurt almost the goodly part of their career here in Chicago so some of it's bad luck.''

Grossman and Benson are not the only players who have been injured here. Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, who had medical issues coming out of Oklahoma, has been on injured reserve three straight seasons. Medical concerns dropped cornerback/safety Zack Bowman to the fifth round last year. He spent most of the season on injured reserve. Former wide receiver Mark Bradley had some knee issues coming out of Oklahoma. He had knee issues his entire time with the Bears. Airese Currie was only a fifth-round pick in 2005, but he came with an injury. He was hurt through his entire time here.

It's a violent, physical game. Players collide in ways humans are not supposed to meet. Injuries happen. The Bears are hoping they can minimize their injury risk.

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It is so frustrating to me that Angelo makes questionable moves in the draft, gets first-guessed by all the fans, tells the fans that he knows better than them, is proven wrong, then says nobody could have seen it coming.

Most Bears fans didn't want Benson, because he seemed like a bad guy coming out of college.
Most Bears fans didn't want Chris Williams--he was labled as soft and having injury concerns. Any other OT in the draft would have been a good pick, Angelo found the only one who wasn't.

I know Angelo has made some good picks, he just seems so pompous when he makes his picks, and so unremorseful when he makes a multimillion dollar mistake. It is just irritating. How many people could make so many million dollar mistakes as he has and keep their job?

In defense of Zack Bowman, the injury that sent him to IR (torn bicep tendon) had ZERO to do with any college injuries. Have to agree with Angelo on that one.

''But I go back to Rex Grossman, never missed a game, never missed a practice. I look at Cedric Benson same way, never missed a game, never missed a= practice. They had great physicals coming out, but they were hurt almost the goodly part of their career here in Chicago so some of it's bad luck.''

He's right. No matter how much research you do, there can still be problems wih draft picks. The Vikes took Adrian Peterson with the 7th overall, a guy with an injury histoy, and now he's the best pure rushing RB in the league.

A lot of it is luck.

I have been trying for a long time to figure out who Angelo reminds me of and last night it finally came to me.

He reminds me of ... Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson who was played by Paul Gleason in the move die hard.

Just clueless and arrogant all the time.

Now he is worried about health concerns. Great joing the party, I notice many teams passed on Williams last year saying his back would be a problem. But not you, Angelo you new it would be just fine. Oh and now your saying the same thing again.

It was at least good to hear him at the interview a bit humbled by his experiences drafting here in Chicago and it sounds like he is finally "getting it", whatever "it" is.

Calling his drafting of Cedric Benson as the fourth overall pick in 2005 his biggest mistake in his time here was a good start. Remember, not only was Benson a big bust, but because of his lucrative contract at fourth overall, it really forced JA's hand in getting rid of Thomas Jones, a total stud and locker room favorite who wasn't costing the Bears nearly as much. Freakin' disaster.

I agree with you. Why would you even consider drafting someone with a back problem? BACK PROBLEMS DO NOT GO AWAY !!!!!
The Bears doctors told the team that Tommy Harris was a 23 yr. old kid in a 35 yr. old body. Why draft him?

JA's logic makes no sense to me.

I still get the feeling that Angelo and Lovie have been given the ultimatum. Fix this team, win with your players, or you are done.

Just my opinion

I love how Jerry mentions all these players, like somehow he had nothing to do with drafting them. What a shocker that Jerry's QB can't find work.

A "stable herniation"? Is he serious? You had to have an impact, start-now player with that first pick last year, so he chooses AN O-LINEMAN WITH BACK PROBLEMS!!!! I wonder if that was a red flag to any other G.M. except Angelo?

What a novel concept....drafting a healthy player.

its hit or miss man...some people have spotless college careers in terms of injuries and become china dolls when they get to the nfl...some cant stay on the field in college and get to the nfl and never miss a game....

sometimes you have to take a gamble...especially if you have someone who has 1st round talent who falls into the late rounds because of an injury (harrison and bowman for example)

those are low risks...and im totally ok with that...

th ehigh risks (chris williams and tommy harris) i see both sides of the coin...they had abilities that were worth the risk...

lets hope they work out

As much as I think Thomas Jones was a better all around back than Benson was, he had two decent years in Chicago (neither of which involved finishing all 16 games during the regular season, and had a complementary back who averaged basically the same yards per carry) and wanted a new deal. He has one very good season in New York, and is holding out for a new deal. He might be a great locker room guy, but that is not a great teammate. He forced the hand of Jerry here, because they weren't going to re-up for a guy who still had time left on his deal when they had a top draft pick on the roster. They got it wrong with Benson, but their logic was right on the money. Now the Jets are thinking of drafting a back early to replace Jones and insure them if Washington doesn't come back after this season. He is causing a disruption of the team because Favre made him look better, and he thinks that means he deserves more money.

He is a very solid all around back, but teams are proving they can find those in the middle rounds of the draft. Jones was a #5 or 6 overall pick, and for the first several years of his career, couldn't get on the field in Arizona....Not Indy, or New England, or Pittsburgh, but ARIZONA....IN 3 years in AZ, he averaged 3.3, 3.4. and 3.7 yards per carry, and never got over 200 carries. Right about the same as Benson, who actually had a higher YPC as a complementary back than Jones did in AZ in the same role.

The difference? Jones had better hands, and could pass protect. he came from a system where he had to do that.
If Benson is a bust, I would grant he was a bust in Chicago. BY the same logic, then Jones is the same thing in Arizona. Benson still has a chance to shake the label by resurrecting his career in Cincy, just like Jones did in Tampa and Chicago. But it doesn't change the fact that the Bears made the correct decision when it came to the two of them. It just didn't work out in our favor.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 22, 2009 1:20 PM.

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