BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--There was plenty of football and non-football issues to tackle as players reported throughout the day.
You get the sense everyone involved cannot wait to get started Friday afternoon. This is the only weekend the team will be practicing at Olivet Nazarene University as the Bears have Family Day at Soldier Field on Aug. 8, play at Buffalo on Aug. 15 and will break camp before the next weekend.
This is what defensive end Alex Brown said when I asked him at the end of OTA's how he felt the Bears had improved in comparison to other teams around the league:
"I don't know what everybody else has but I tell you what, I like the team we have now,'' Brown said. "I'll tell you that. We're going to be pretty good. We've got to come play and teams change from year to year and people tend to look at what happened the previous year and say, `OK, the strength of your schedule isn't very good or it is.' The teams we have coming in, they're going to be good teams. We're going to have to come ready to play, but we're going to have a good chance to win all of them.
"Everybody knows when everything kind of started changing but you come out and you see guys playing together and see how hard guys are working and over the past 10 weeks just to see how much we've grown, not just as a D-line or a defense but as a team, you see it. We've got to dodge the injury bug. If we can do that and if we can get Tommie [Harris] back healthy, we'll be damn hard to beat, I'll tell you that.''
*** No telling what the Bears do at nose tackle as Lovie Smith was coy when asked who would be lining up next to Harris but the right thing from our vantage point would be to put Anthony Adams on the field. He played better than anyone else at the position last season. That ought to count for something.
Marcus Harrison is out of the mix until probably next week some time. He will be placed on the non-football injury list because he failed his physical. Harrison said he weighed in at 322 pounds, 10 pounds over his listed playing weight. He's not on the physically unable to perform list because PUP is for players who were injured during a football activity. Harrison is simply out of shape.
*** Cornerback Charles Tillman said his back started acting up during OTA's. He tried rehabbing it and when it didn't get better he opted for surgery. Here is the run down on Tillman surgeries:
Post 2005 season--shoulder surgery
Post 2007 season--back surgery
Post 2008 season--shoulder surgery
Two weeks ago--back surgery
He's confident he'll be back in shape and as good as new soon.
"All you gotta put is I got a tuneup and I'm good for another 15,000 miles,'' Tillman said. "I feel great.''
Everyone will keep a close eye on Tillman when he returns.
*** Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was upbeat when discussing his chance to finally get back on the field Friday. He sat out the entire offseason to recover from surgery to repair a sports hernia. When healthy, Hillenmeyer is a better athlete than he's given credit for being.
*** Speaking of linebackers, the expected starter on the strong side is Pisa Tinoisamoa. He's already up to speed in the defense and said it's virtually the same as what he was used to as a rookie in St. Louis in 2003.
``It's the exact same thing,'' he said.
Tinoisamoa signed a one-year contract worth $1.5 million ($1 million base, $500,000 signing bonus). He was released by the St. Louis Rams in late May and acknowledged the thought process was that a one-year deal allowed him to enter the free market at a more opportune time.
"We tossed around the idea of a two-year deal, at least, and we talked about what happened because I got released at that time,'' Tinoisamoa said. "There were different options. Weighing it out and looking at free agency and the potential that we have there, and looking at the teams we had interested, it only made sense to sign the one-year [contract]. Hopefully, things work out [longterm]. But if not, you're with a good defense, an established defense and one I am familiar with, and I'm with a team that likes me. Why not?''
*** The Twitter account (BradBiggs) took off today. I'm going to do my best to Tweet everything I can find in camp but the first few days are all about trying to get ahead and lay the foundation for the coming weeks. As always, thanks for participating and thanks for reading. Tune into 670-AM at 6 a.m. Friday. I'll be on with Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley talking Bears.