BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Lovie Smith is adamant that Michael Vick deserves a second chance in the NFL after missing two seasons and spending nearly two years in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.
"I think Mike deserves a second chance, I'll say that again,'' Smith said in his kickoff press conference to training camp Thursday afternoon at Olivet Nazarene University. ``Like everyone in society after they have paid their debt to society on any type of crime, you deserve a second chance.''
Too bad for Vick, Smith doesn't see a need on the Bears' roster, which stands one shy of the limit at 79 after the retirement of safety Glenn Earl earlier this week. Vick is seeking a new home after commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated him earlier this week. Vick is cleared to participate in all of training camp, play in the final two games of preseason and participate in regular-season games by Week 6 at the latest. The sooner Vick finds a new home, the quicker he will be able to reacclimate himself to life as a quarterback in the league, learning a new offense, new teammates and new surroundings that will certainly be a circus from the start.
"As far as we're concerned, we like the team we have right now,'' Smith said. "So if you're asking me about whether we're looking for receivers or are we going to trade guys, we like this team. I don't think we need to add anything else at this time.''
The backups to starter Jay Cutler are unproven. Caleb Hanie enters camp as the No. 2. He was an undrafted free agent last season and did not appear in a game. Also in the mix is Brett Basanez, who is also yet to gain regular-season experience.
"I like what we have right now so I'm not going to assume that we're not going to like something later on,'' Smith said. "I think things re going to get better and better. We like what we've seen from Caleb Hanie when he has been given an opportunity to play. I think it's time to give him an opportunity to see what he can do right now.''
Vick would offer a completely different skill set to the offense, and open up a range of different opportunities as far as the Wildcat and more with a player who has proven playmaking ability, something that has been sorely lacking in Smith's tenure.
"He would be different, but again for us, we like our football team that we have right now,'' Smith said. "There aren't any plans to go in that direction."