Chicago Sun-Times

Who is not expected at the start of off-season program

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Bears coach Lovie Smith said last week at the owners meeting that he expects close to a 100 percent attendance when the voluntary off-season workout program starts Monday at Halas Hall.

"It says quite a bit, too, about our team," Smith said. "They're voluntary workouts... but that says a lot, when you have pretty much a 100 percent of your players coming there."

Greg Olsen, Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers were among those at Halas Hall on Monday. But there are a handful of players who were not: Alex Brown, who is on the trade block, and restricted free agents defensive end Mark Anderson, safety Danieal Manning and linebacker Jamar Williams.

But numerous restricted players throughout the NFL are going to exercise one of the few tools they have to express their displeasure: their absence.

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13 Comments

Sean,
How about a status update on the RFAs we have? have any of them fielded any calls or made any visits to other teams? I have not seen anything, but a lot of times, there is activity going on that doesn't hit the media.

I would avoid voluntary workouts as well if i did not have a guarantee of the money they were offering if I were to get injured. Sure, a lot of it is they are expressing their "displeasure" at being paid over $1M for a year to play a game, but the risk of injury or the chance at a larger payday is something that all of these players are thinking about. And it's not like they are all rookies. They have been here for multiple years, so they know the defense. If there were offensive players who were sitting out, that would be another story. This new offense is going to be tough to digest, and missing even voluntary workouts and meetings will set them back more than they can afford early on. The players behind them would be moved up the chart, and Martz has shown over the years that he is particularly petty, and would make it a lot harder for them to get their jobs back when they finally reported.

What are we thinking putting Alex Brown on the block?!?!??!
This guy is
-A leader on our defense
-one of the most consistent players we have
-tough against the run
Where it leaves us
-Peppers is great but he can't play d-end by him self, talent on the other side could take advantage of the attention Peppers gets to excel and Idonije has shown some flashes but hasn't earned a starting role and Anderson hasn't shown anything since year one
-If it means we'd be able to pick up a quality DB or left Guard you'd have a hard time knocking the team for going with it, But, as much as it might be deserved, I don't see A-Brown getting that kind of respect on the market.
-If we don't see a need filling guy we're left wondering if Brown can play with as much heart with bad blood running in his veins, I hope he doesn't take this personally.

Well, "Brother Jon", you pretty much covered the DE situation in a nutshell.

We get a super DE in Peppers, and what do they do? .... Immediately diminish the accomplishment! .... Why get TOO good, when we can go back to relying upon some player's "potential", instead of relying upon proven performance?

And, if they do end up keeping Brown, why should he continue to bust his a$$ for a team that has shown that it will stab anyone in the back. .... Hence, we may now get diminished effort on his part!

If we don't keep Brown, Peppers must be thinking, "What the Hell. ... Do they expect ME to do it ALL?? ... They're not even trying!"

And, non-producing Harris laughs all the way to the bank!

Good-old screw-up Bears.

When is "voluntary" not "mandatory"? I constantly wonder what such words men in the context of pro football pre-season programs. Does the failure to appear mean anything at all? Does it really signify,as you say, Sean, displeasure on the part of those not attending? I cynically think that it depends on the person not attending. Urlacher got away with it and was handsomely rewarded even though he did not deserve it. Others as well have had no negative response to their absences.Are players unable to voice their dissatisfaction or face reprisals if they do so openly, such as was the case of Cutler? The whole thing reminds me of two kids playing the "Did So!" "Did not!" game.Management and players should both start acting like mature adults.

Bill and John,
This team is not very good, and has not been for nearly 3 years. The defense has been gouged for big yards and big points nearly every game. The offensive line couldn't block a defense loaded with toddlers, let alone manage to hold up against the Williams wall with Allen on the edge, and the 3-4 defenses we faced gave us fits (now nearly half the league runs some variation of the 3-4).

We all know Alex is a hard worker, a solid leader, and a straight-forward guy. But what he is not is a sack machine, and he obviously is not a left end, as he never lined up over there in the rotation in any of the years Lovie has been in Chicago. So you have two choices: 1) You put Peppers on the left, where opposing QBs can see him coming, so you can keep your 6 sack per year nice guy on the defensive line, or 2) you move Peppers to the blind side of most QBs, so they have to think about him without being able to see him when they drop back, and you figure out what to do with your left end from what you have left.

Add in that Brown is one of the 3 trade-able commodities on this roster (Briggs and Olsen are the other two), and while it is a crappy thing to have happen, it makes sense. Had we signed Kampmann instead of Peppers, this would be a non-issue, as Kamp plays the left side. But since we brought in one of the premier REs in the game, our solid, steady RE no longer has his spot.

If they thought Alex could play the left side, he would still be here. He volunteered to make the switch, but the coaching staff thinks they can get equal production out of Anderson and Idonije. I think Anderson played his best all around football when he replaced Ogunleye after he broke his leg. So it sucks, and they may be wrong in their assessment, but they are banking that Anderson will continue to improve, and Brown is what he has been for the last 5 years. Solid, steady, consistent.

My guess is that $5 million for the season will help Brown to not take it personally. And if it doesn't, well then he's just another idiot.

I like Brown. He's been the most consistent defender for the last three years. But being the most consistent on a defense that has been bad isn't saying a whole lot. So, I don't mind the Bears shopping him, but only if they can get a good deal in return. If the Bears can get a 2nd rounder (which they won't) or a starting guard then it's a good move. Otherwise they should keep him. His stats are going to look a lot better playing opposite Peppers.

I would love to keep Brown as well, but we need OG and if other teams are shying away from his 5 mil... well cut him and resign him lower...can we do that? or restructure his contract?
But my gosh we need Oline help faster than asap.

Joe Filicelli,

To answer one of your questions...

Using your logic...If In knew how to ice skate...then its all in the bag...I win a gold medal at the olympics. I don't need to practice.
If I was a marine getting ready for Iraq, I don't need to practice because I have already done it. If I was a cop, I don't need to practice shooting because I am already a sharpshooter and I have a medal to prove it. Think you are listening to too many lazy professional football players. Injury is part of the game. I look at it this way...If you don't practice to get ready for full contact, you are going to get your rear end wipped and get hurt in the process.
You are not getting RFA status from these writers because they don't want to piss off the bears front office and not be allowed to interview players ...plain and simple.

Paul Manter...

When is voluntary not mandatory you ask? Try doing that on your job and see where it gets you. Yeah...the premadonnas might get away with it but most of the players are just glad to have a job...and it is mandatory...just like at your job and mine. Don't show up...and the management will remember you during pay day...or when its time to shed some players.....no different than where you work now. Its a real world out there. Wake up.

Randy...
I like your logic. Break one part of the team to fix another. The defense is more problematic than the offense...even with Martz in the mix. And it won't get fixed until Lovie is gone. He is the biggest problem of the team...along with the other bozos at the top.


So Joe let me get this right, you don't think Peppers can play LDE and that he is better at RDE. But Peppers spent the first 6 years of his NFL career at LDE including his only two All Pro years 2004 and 2006 which are also his two best production years. So I am pretty sure he can play LDE. He could even help Harris over there, cause Harris is fully healthy and but needs help. As for Anderson playing well the last two games of the season. The defense gave up 53 points in those two games and one team was detroit. Not to mention they where all playing loose do to the fact they where eliminated. In fact the Bears have finished their last 3 seasons winning at least 2 of their last three games. Hasn't seemed to translate to wins when it counts though. When Anderson has been called upon to step up he has failed once the pressure is off, its a different story. Its not like the Bears have had tough schedules the last couple of years either.

The Bears are replacing two ends with one by the way, not one. Peppers is the only addition. Anderson played 522 snaps last year only 200 fewer than Brown, you movie Izzy so you have lost your nickle rushing under tackle and have zero depth at that position. Is Harris going to play every snap? Dream on, not to mention Peppers usually only plays about 700 snaps as well. So the Bears have lost depth at two positions and talent at two as well.

But the upside is in an uncapped year they put Brown on the block hoping to trade him to a team that doesn't want him. You know they can afford Brown for one more year, and get a new guard using their 4th and draft a Safety with their third(who is sure to be a break out star given all their excellent mid round safety picks). Use the 4th Sims, if they are looking for a guard they where going to draft a guy anyway. If Sims is so good then a 4th round pick for the guy is a steal, right? The only thing getting rid of Brown is doing is saving them money, it doesn't improve the team in any way, shape or form.

Who says Alex can't play LDE? Lovie no offense but the guy doesn't know where to start half his players and often starts the lesser player over the better player, Harrison over Adams. Manning starting over anyone, Roach over Hillenmyer in the middle, Izzy at Under Tackle, Anderson at Under Tackle and Anderson over Brown, not sure where to use Gilbert or Melton, Omiyale, DA, Benson, Jones, Pace, Chris Williams. Lovie has final say on where anyone starts and has not done what could be considered a bang up job. But all of a sudden he is going to have all the right moves, even though he looks like he is making the exact same mistakes as he always makes.

Everything else aside, I would miss Brown's approach to the game and seeing some of his absolutely bone-jarring tackles. Perhaps his days as a starter with pro-bowl potential are over, but does anyone really doubt that keeping him would not be a wise move? He still has some great plays left in him, and his leadership and direct honesty are certainly valuable. Would what the Bears could get in trade be worth it? Maybe. But I don't think it's worth the risk.

Creighton,
I never said he (Peppers) couldn't play the left side, I am saying it is better for us for him to be on the right side. We have 3 QBs who like to hold the ball in our division, and they won't see him coming on their back side. If he is coming into their face, they have a chance to move around and escape.
I am saying that Alex Brown has not played at all on the left, and if the team thought he could be equally as effective as Idonije and Anderson, he would not be on the trade block. Is the team a little light on their personnel evaluation skills? Absolutely, but I can see their reasoning (right or wrong). Would I be ok with Peppers on the left side? Yes, but I think we are better off with him on the right. Are we better with Brown on the right and Peppers on the left than we are with Idonije/Anderson on the left, and Peppers on the right? That remains to be seen.

If this comes back to bite us, which it probably will, then that is one thing. Is part of it the money? Yes, but part of it is that we have to play some of these guys we have drafted so we at least get a shot to make our investment worthwhile. If Gilbert and Melton can't get the job done, then this works out horribly for us. The team has to bank on their evaluation skills (not a gamble I would take) to see if they can get this team over the hump.

There is a whole other debate as to why Brown is being pushed out, while Tommie Harris is still here, but there is nothing we can do about that.

Okay,Val, we now know what players did not show up for the "voluntary" workouts. I'll bet they are all back on the field this season without any pay cuts and that not one is likely to be traded. I guess that means, if my prediction is fulfilled, that at least in this case "voluntary" did mean " voluntary." Smith's comments in that regard simply add confusion.

How does anyone know that Brown can't play left end? He's small for that side, but he's tough and good against the run. This is a stupid move no matter how you cut it. Or cheap. Or both.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on March 28, 2010 10:21 PM.

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