A recap of Day 1 at Bears training camp in Bourbonnais:
1. Phil Emery: All the pieces might be in place.
In Phil Emery's first year as general manager, the Bears open training camp with some significant issues (offensive line, defensive line) but no distractions. Matt Forte is signed and happy. Jay Cutler is in a comfort zone. Until further notice, Emery is still the guy who acquired Brandon Marshall.
''I think we've made progress. But to say a Super Bowl contender, it has to be earned on the field,'' Emery said when asked if he thinks he has put together a roster that will be a Super Bowl contender. ''Do we have good, talented players that can contribute towards a winning team and moving toward our goals of winning a championship? Yes, we do. Are we there yet? No, we're not. We've got to earn that every day on the field.''
2. Setting the bar for Lovie Smith.
Emery didn't give specific parameters, but it seems pretty clear that barring unforeseen circumstances (like a Jay Cutler injury), the Bears will have to make the playoffs for Lovie Smith to keep his job.
''As far as my expectations [for Smith], it's the same as I put on myself,'' Emery said. ''We expect to be experts at our jobs. And our goal is excellence and coming together to win championships and that's my expectations -- to make steady progress toward those goals.
''This is a team that has goals. And we want to make progress towards those goals daily and weekly. I want to know where that direction is daily and weekly toward attaining our goals, and that's that's how I'll determine it.''
3. Johnny Knox likely to be on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Knox, who led the Bears with 727 receiving yards on 37 receptions (19.7 yards per catch) in less than 14 games last season, is still rehabilitating from a devastating back injury he suffered against the Seahawks in Week 15.
"We're going to let that take its course [Wednesday] and see where it's at,'' Emery said. ''And if he does, it'll be on the active PUP where we can bring him up at any time. We'll play that day by day. Johnny's certainly worked hard and deserves every consideration that we can give him to get healthy and get back on the field."
4. Jay Cutler is as ready as he's ever been.
The player Emery called ''a cornerstone'' of the franchise will have his third offensive coordinator in four seasons with the Bears, but also better weapons and a better comfort zone than ever with coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.
''This is the most comfortable I think I've been going into a camp,'' Cutler said, ''with the offense and what we're doing scheme-wise and the talent around me.
''Jeremy's installed some stuff we did in Denver, some stuff I'm really comfortable with. Mike Tice has a really good feel for what I like to do and how to put guys in position to be successful. I'm happy with it. There's still some tweaking we have to do so everyone's on the same page. But the offseason work we've done has put us in the right direction.''
5. Bears mum on possible new contract for Brian Urlacher.
Emery isn't going to divulge any information about contract negotiations, but Urlacher's future with the Bears will be an issue one way or another this season. More than likely, if Urlacher proves he's healthy and productive at 34 after suffering strained knee ligaments in Week 17 last season, the Bears will move quickly to strike a deal on a new contract.
On the other hand, if Urlacher struggles and rookie Shea McClellin shows signs of being able to replace him sometime in the future, this could be Urlacher's final year in Chicago. For what it's worth, Lovie Smith said Urlacher is ''ready to go'' and won't be limited in training camp after being held out of most of the offseason practices.
''I've had good conversations with Brian,'' was all Emery would say about Urlacher's contract situation. ''That's a fine human being. He's obviously, if not our team leader, one of our top team leaders. Brian Urlacher's been a great Bear and a great NFL football player. Yes I've talked to him. And I'm excited about Brian this season.''