Chicago Sun-Times

Lovie Smith talks about Olin Kreutz and Chris Spencer

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Lovie Smith had a healthy respect for the impact of Olin Kreutz on the field and in the lockerroom. But after expressing disappointment that the Kreutz era is over Sunday, the Bears' coach as expected quickly moved on.

''You know how I feel about Olin. He's been a great Chicago Bear,'' Smith said after practice at training camp in Bourbonnais. ''But every year is different, a different team. You have to move on, which we're going to do. We have a good football team and other guys will have to move into that role.

While it was clear to everybody concerned that Kreutz was not the Pro Bowl caliber player he was in his prime, he still was a valuable part of the team on and off the field. So while the Bears somewhat surprisingly moved on and signed former Seattle Seahawks center Chris Spencer to a two-year contract Sunday, the question quickly turned to whether or not the Bears are better
without Kreutz.

''We think we're a good football team with the team we have right now,'' Smith said when asked that question Sunday.

''Chris is a good football player. I can't compare him to Olin. Olin was not an option, didn't work out. This is a good option for us. We're always trying to improve our football team, we need a player and we feel good about him.''

Smith knew there was no avoiding the Kreutz angle Sunday. But he was less willing to lament the departure of the 13-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl center than the media after practice.

''You can't live in the past,'' he said when asked how disappointed he was that Kreutz and the Bears couldn't come to terms. ''There are other good football players that we had on our team last year, but this is a new year. We can't continue to talk about what's happened in the past. We're talking about now. We're excited about getting a chance to see Chris Spencer on the football field, and today we were better than we were yesterday as a football team. And that will continue to happen throughout [training camp].''

Smith said the move was a team decision.

"Every decision is made as far as personnel, it's not 'Jerry' and 'Lovie.' We make those decisions,'' Smith said. ''We've come to this conclusion. You negotiate and sometimes it just doesn't happen for us. Everyone knows what Olin Kreutz has done for us in the past, and that's quite a bit. But this is a new year, we're going in this direction and we have a good football team.''

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I'm truly hoping that something can be worked out to keep Olin around. If not as a player, then in some form of coaching aspect, to help bring along whoever is gonna be playing center. The leadership and toughness will be missed. I loved watching Olin come to the rescue of his teammates, when someone was doing them wrong. He was always the first one there and the last to leave. Go Bears!!!!

Chris Spencer was a nice pickup, youth was needed at the position. Will Spencer be the long term answer? Only time will tell. Spencer started all 16 games last season for the Seahawks, but the last couple seasons before that had problems with a thumb injury. Spencer is only a 7 year vet, so maybe he can become the guy? I do think he is better now that Olin Kreutz is at this point in Kreutz's career. Is Spencer better than Kreutz when Kreutz was in his prime, heck no. But again, at this point he is an upgrade. This signing also proves the Bears don't have much confidence in Edwin Williams.

The fact Spencer only got a 2 year deal also proves the Bears wanna see what he's got before commiting long term. Or maybe they have a young guy they like down the road, maybe its rookie free agent Alex Linnenkohl? Linnenkohl has 38 starts under his belt at Oregon State, and scouts say he doen't get moved off the spot by bull rushers, he's strong at the point of attack. You also gotta like Linnenkohl for his durability, thats one thing that has plagued Chris Spencer in Seattle. To be a legit center you simply have to be able to stay on the field. Linnenkohl was also a team leader at Oregon State and was also known for his toughness and work ethic. He'll be one to keep an eye on during camp GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on July 31, 2011 4:17 PM.

Olin Kreutz out, Chris Spencer in for Bears at center was the previous entry in this blog.

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