Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli speaks softy and carries a very small stick when it comes to media interviews, especially in training camp. Its no wonder he and Lovie Smith get along so well. When it comes to evaluating their players publicly, the more they talk, the less they say.
So not surprisingly, there were no revelations when Marinelli met the media for the first time this season Thursday at Bears training camp in Bourbonnais. Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher are really good players. Anthony Adams knows the system. Major Wright should be better in his second year in the system.
How good can Amobi Okoye or Vernon Gholston be? ''I just want to see him in practice,'' Marinelli said, ''see what he does well, understand the concepts of our defense -- how hard we're going to play, and the tempo. Then we'll kind of go from there.''
For what it's worth, Marinelli mentioned four players unprompted: defensive ends Israel Idonije, Peppers and Wootton and Urlacher.
''I think another year for Izzy -- he's come out of there and he's looked really quick and sharp,'' Marinelli said. ''We know Pep. Nothing to be said about that, what he is. I like what Wootton has done so far in camp. He's really trimmed himself down. Looks quick, looks fast.''
Asked about the progress the defense has made in the four days of training camp that the players actually have been on the field -- only one of them in pads and none of them with the full complement of players on the roster, Marinelli lauded Urlacher's excellence.
''What's impressive with these guys -- with 54 inside, you can draw cards forever trying to trick this guy. He knows what he's doing. He can adjust this defense. He's just an absolutely great football player. Now it comes down to developing our skill every day.''
Asked if the defense can get better this year, or will just work hard to stagnate in 2011, Marinelli said the expectations are to exceed last year's performance.
''Our expectations continue to go up because we were one step away,'' Marinelli said. ''We've got to make another step. But before that, we've got to get back down to the basics. These guys are going to know to do. That's a given. But what we've got to do is make sure we do what we know -- that means the fundamentals. We've got to get drilled back in the fundamentals.
''That's about execution. That's coaches and players together. When we execute, it's on the players and coaches together that we've got to get this done. That's our drill work and all those things. I feel very good about these guys. Now if we can add a few more pieces to it, it's going to help us.''