In his last interview before being arrested on federal drug charges, Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd gave no indication he was about to run afoul of the law.
Because Hurd knows all three wide receiver positions in the Mike Martz's offense, he was a "go-to" guy on anything involving the receivers, even though the special-teams standout was used sparingly on offense.
So with Earl Bennett struggling to connect with Caleb Hanie as he had with Jay Cutler, I asked Hurd if it was more difficult for an inexperienced quarterback to find a guy like Bennett, whose expertise is finding the cracks and seams in a defense rather than just beating his man off the line.
''No. It's tougher for a quarterback that hasn't worked with that person,'' Hurd told the Sun-Times on Wednesday in the Bears locker room. ''It's tougher if you don't have a feel for what he likes and does all the time, and [if] you're not going with him [in practice reps] all the time.
''That's tough, to find him and throw to the spot that you're supposed to -- that's what quarterbacks do.''
Hurd's explanation was that all quarterbacks, whether it be Hanie or Cutler, rookie Nathan Enderle or veteran Josh McCown, need more than a few practices to get that timing and familiarity down. Certainly the year-and-a-half it has taken Cutler to get in a groove is evidence of that.
''That's why we have OTAs [offseason workouts, which were cancelled last summer because of the lockout],'' Hurd told me. ''Otherwise you could just jump right into the season and play. But you need these practices to get timing down; to understand that I'm a different speed than Earl. And Earl's a different speed than Johnny [Knox]. And everybody's a different speed, different turns, different steps, everything. [The quarterback has to] time up with everybody.''
But Hurd also noted that once a quarterback starts to get in sync with his receivers, it can click at any moment.
''It can happen real quick,'' he said. ''Once they're back on, there's nothing that can stop them, either.''
Hurd said he understands the frustration, but noted it's important that receivers like Bennett are doing the little things that go with the job. Roy Williams, for instance, had a key downfield block that helped Marion Barber score a touchdown on a nine-yard run against the Broncos last week.
''It could be frustrating for Caleb, for everybody,'' Hurd said. ''You want perfection. You want everything to go right. And if it doesn't, that's what happens. But it's football. Everything's not going to be perfect. You can't [just] look at [receiving yards]. You've got to make sure you're 100 percent in everything you do -- not just getting the ball and making something happen, but blocking, running the right routes, helping out another player -- that's what it's all about.''
Hurd's explanation took us past the "open-lockerroom" time when players are available to the media. But that's the kind of guy Sam Hurd is ... or was. I've never met an athlete who was more happy to be alive. ''There's no way you can always be as happy as you look,'' I would tell him. And he would smile and say something about getting only one shot at life and making the most of it. I always thought that was a great quality about Sam Hurd. But maybe not.