Chicago Sun-Times

May 2013 Archives

Bears fullback Evan Rodriguez was ticketed early Friday morning on I-90 near Hubbard Street for driving under the influence, speeding and improper lane usage, according to Illinois State Police.

"We are aware of the reports regarding Evan Rodriguez," the Bears said in a statement. "We are currently gathering information to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the situation."

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Bears chairman George McCaskey has stated that Mike Ditka's No. 89 will be last number retired by the organization, saying in a statement "we thought if there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89."

And that is just fine with the legendary Dan Hampton, who wore No. 99 during his Hall of Fame career with the Bears. It's been argued for years that his number should be retired as well.

"I understand. It's simple math," Hampton told the Sun-Times on Friday. "This is a franchise with so many great players. If everybody's number got retired, it would diminish the honor in a way. I understand. The kind of the trap of it all is that if you played for the Bears that you're one of many. If you played in Tampa, what is there a handful of guys?

"It's kind of a numbers game and I understand that. I know that a number of players probably understand, and I'm talking about [Mike] Singletary, Richard Dent and other great players where probably some other place would have warranted it, but for team like Chicago, it's a numbers game. You have to understand that."

The Bears placed advertisements in the Chicago dailies Friday thanking longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher. Here's what appeared in the Sun-Times:

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Considering his accomplishments, his overall value and the way he changed the perception of the middle linebacker position, longtime Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher seems destined for the Hall of Fame.

The debate it seems is whether he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer or have to wait a little longer. He will be part of stellar group of players who will be eligible in 2018, including linebacker Ray Lewis, cornerback Ronde Barber, guard Steve Hutchinson and quite possibly receiver Randy Moss.

But one former NFL personnel man doesn't quite believe in Urlacher's credentials. Former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio that Urlacher is "a borderline Hall of Famer."

"I don't know that he's a definite Hall of Famer," Accorsi said on the show (via Pro Football Talk). "I think there is a host of them, like Willie Lanier, that were dominant players. He was good, but I wouldn't put him in that level."

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Here's a collection of comments from around the league about longtime Bears linebacker and his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL:

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It seems like a moot point now with Marc Trestman now in charge of the Bears and Lovie Smith gone. But Brian Urlacher said he believes he'd still be playing if Smith was the Bears' head coach. Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday.

"I do believe that, yes," Urlacher said during an interview on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" Wednesday. "I think my desire to be there would be a lot more as well.

"Nothing against the new coaching staff because I never played for them, but when you start playing for a guy like Lovie, you want to keep playing. So I think if he was there, my desire, my want-to to play would still be there."

Bears chairman George McCaskey issued the following statement on the retirement of longtime Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on Wednesday:

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The Urlacher era in Chicago is now officially over.

After 13 seasons in a Bears uniform, linebacker Brian Urlacher is retiring from the NFL. He announced his decision on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," Urlacher said. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.

"I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of yo everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets."

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Kicker Robbie Gould is set to return to the practice fields with his Bears teammates during organized team activities on Thursday.

Gould is yet take part in any offseason workouts with the Bears and new coach Marc Trestman because of a leg injury suffered while warming up before the Bears' game Dec. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Bears rookie punter Tress Way is eager to get back to home to Oklahoma this coming Memorial Day weekend after a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Okla. on Monday.

Way, whom the Bears signed as a free agent after the draft, just wants to help. Way is from Tulsa, Okla. and went to the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

"Moore is about five minutes from my school in Norman," Way said Tuesday after the Bears' organized team activities. "The movie theater that was hit, that's where we all go see our movies. I was in our rookie meeting [Monday] and my phone just kept buzzing and obviously I wasn't checking it or anything but I was really eager to see what I happened, because we had no idea. We had been here all day.

"I just started getting pictures, text-message pictures from people. I mean, my goodness, it's heartbreaking because it's five minutes down the road from us. ... I was just so heartbroken because, man, I just want to go home. There's not a whole lot that you can do. It's a natural disaster. It's a horrible thing. I texted all the guys from my team back home and I just said, 'Fellas, get down there. Start pulling debris off.' They're missing kids, there are families (missing)."


The NFL is close to pushing back the league draft to May, according to an ESPN.com report.

The draft would move from April to May beginning with the 2014 draft, sources told ESPN. In addition, the report also quotes sources saying the league is considering beginning its year before the Indianapolis Combine in February, allowing more time for free-agent signing. The league year currently begins in March.

With their second week of organized team activities beginning on Monday, the Bears announced that they have terminated the contract of veteran defensive tackle Andre Fluellen.

The Bears had signed Fluellen to a one-year deal on April 9 along with center Taylor Boggs and defensive end Kyle Moore. Fluellen's release leaves the Bears with just two veteran defensive tackles, Nate Collins and Corvey Irvin, behind starters Henry Melton and Stephen Paea.

The Bears signed Irvin after being invited to rookie camp on tryout basis. They also have three undrafted free agents on their roster in Christian Tupou, Brent Russell and Zach Minter.

Fluellen has played in 56 games with six starts over five seasons with the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins, recording 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

The Bears did need to free up a spot for rookie cornerback Maurice Jones. The Temple product agreed to terms on a deal with the Bears a week ago after an impressive minicamp, but was not immediately signed.

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And like that the Bears are done.

The Bears agreed to terms with first-round pick guard Kyle Long, the 20th overall selection, on a four-year deal with an option late Friday. Long was the last remaining draft pick of their 2013 class to reach a deal with the Bears.

"I just know that Chicago is one of the most historic football towns in the country," Long said after he was drafted. "There are Chicago Bears fans everywhere in the world. The 'C' on the helmet is synonymous with success and tremendous football. That's what I'm most excited about, coming to Chicago and being part of the Bears organization."

After seeing others leave this offseason for bigger titles, the Bears promoted another one of their own on Thursday, making Mark Sadowski their senior national scout.

Sadowski, a St. Rita graduate, joined the Bears in 2005 and spent last year as one of the team's national scouts. He has 16 years of NFL scouting experience, beginning with the New Orleans Saints (1998-2005).

"Mark has been essential in the scouting and the evaluation of player talent since joining the Bears," general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. "He has also been integral in establishing how we are using technology to elevate our scouting process and personnel operations."

It should be no news here. But for what it's worth, here's what Bears general manager Phil Emery said about former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher during an interview with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio late Wednesday.

Emery was asked about the chances of Urlacher re-signing with the Bears.

"Brian was a great player and still is a great player," Emery said. "I have the utmost respect for Brian. As I've told people before, I've got far too many gray hairs to never say never. But obviously we've made an investment in terms of bringing a couple of key veterans in and drafting a couple rookies. So I would say that that is less likely to happen than more likely."

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Gabe Carimi's decision to skip the Bears' offseason training activities thus far had led to rampant speculation that the 2011 first-round pick's time in Chicago may be winding down.

But Bears general manager Phil Emery said the team would welcome him back with "open arms" during an interview with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio late Wednesday.

"This is a voluntary situation and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery said. "Gabe has made a decision that he wants to stay in Arizona and train, and we respect that. And he'll be welcomed with open arms when he comes back."

We asked you to ask our Bears writer Adam L. Jahns questions about your beloved team. Here's how Jahns answered on Twitter:

carimi.JPGA source confirmed that offensive lineman Gabe Carimi has informed the Bears that he prefers to remain in Arizona to train despite organized team activities beginning at Halas Hall on Monday.

OTAs are voluntary, but at the moment, there is no anticipation as to when Carimi, the Bears' first-round pick in 2011, will be joining his Bears teammates. Carimi wasn't present Tuesday at practice, which was open to the media, after sitting out the first day on Monday.

"Obviously, we talk and he's doing what's best for him," center Roberto Garza said. "That's all I have to say about that."

Carimi started the first 10 games of last season at right tackle before losing his spot to veteran Jonathan Scott. He later started three games at right guard after injuries decimated the Bears' offensive line.

New Bears coach Marc Trestman said during voluntary minicamp in April that he sees Carimi as "more guard" moving forward. It's been expected that Carimi would compete against 2013 first-round pick Kyle Long, Matt Slauson and James Brown at the position.

Carimi was never healthy last season after dislocating his right knee cap in Week 2 of the 2011 season and later requiring multiple surgeries.

Carimi, who did participate in voluntary minicamp, said his goal for the offseason was "just getting healthy. Just feeling better and feeling back to my old self like my rookie year."

Garza said there "a lot of changes" from last season to adjust to and that's why OTAs are important.

"From the weight room to the way the practices are being run to the meetings, we have a whole new staff, a whole new offense to learn," Garza said.

Garza centered a completely new offensive line on Tuesday with tackle Jermon Bushrod and Slauson to his left and tackle' J'Marcus Webb and Brown to his right.

"We just have to work together, and obviously, these OTAs are great for that, learning how each other plays, trusting each other," Garza said. "There's a big process that has to go into us working together and it starts here."

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When the Bears drafted Cornelius Washington out of Georgia in the sixth round, it was suggested that it was another sign that the team may be moving to a 3-4 defensive scheme since Washington is considered a hybrid-type player.

But like 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin, Washington will have his hand in the dirt, first and foremost. He'll focus on being a defensive end in the Bears' 4-3 scheme and rushing the passer. He spent all of rookie camp at defensive end.

"He looks athletic, looks like he can rush a little bit, high-motor guy who only knows one speed, full speed whether it's a walk-through or whatever," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "He's a fun guy to coach. ... He's a guy who improves and takes coaching, so I think he's got some upside and the arrow is up with him."

Bears coach Marc Trestman will be able to decide if likes what he sees by seeing nearly everything that Matt Blanchard sees as he makes his progressions.

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Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has only one starting linbeacker returning from last season. But after two days of rookie minicamp, the veteran coach also knows he's get two young linebackers who can play.

Rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene may not be starters come Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the potential is there. Just ask Tucker.

"I like them so far," Tucker said Saturday at the Walter Payton Center after the second day of rookie minicamp. "So far so good."

longcamp.JPGKyle Long's days are numbered -- well, sort of. After taking parting in the first day of rookie camp on Friday, the Bears' first-round pick has just two more days to work with Marc Trestman and Co. before an NFL rule separates them.

Long (as many should know) is inelgibile to take part in the Bears' organized team activities (OTAs) after rookie camp because of an NFL rule that prohibits rookies from doing so before their college final exams are completed.

Long, a guard whom the Bears selected out of Oregon with the 20th overall selection, is among a group of rookies who are affected. It typically affects Pac-12 players because of the use of the quarter system.

Oregon's final exams are from June 10-14 and graduation is June 17. The Bears' OTA offseason workouts are scheduled for May 13-14, May 16, May 20-21, May 23 and June 3-6.

So what will Bears do with Long?

The Bears' three-day rookie minicamp began it's on-the-field work Friday inside the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall. Their entire 2013 draft class was there and so were some second-year players, including quarterback Matt Blanchard.

But there also were plenty of others. The Bears invited 33 players to rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Here's the complete and official list:

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When linebacker Jon Bostic steps onto the field Friday during the Bears' rookie minicamp, he'll do so with one less concern.

Bostic agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Bears on Thursday. As of 2 p.m., the only player from their 2013 draft class without a deal is first-rounder Kyle Long.

"I can't wait to get up there and just get started and get back to football," Bostic told the Sun-Times. "We've been in this whole process of getting me ready for the combine and flying around [to visit] other teams. Now, it's time to really get back to football and get back on the field."

The Bears, as expected, moved quickly to sign their draft picks, getting deals done with linebacker Khaseem Greene, offensive tackle Jordan Mills, defensive end Cornelius Washington and receiver Marquess Wilson last week.

All of them will be reporting to Halas Hall on Thursday for Bears' three-day rookie minicamp. On-the-field training with new Bears coach Marc Trestman begins on Friday.

On Thursday, guard Kyle Long will report to the Bears' three-day rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. After that, Long's offseason training with the Bears will be limited by an NFL rule.

Long, whom the Bears selected out of Oregon with the 20th overall selection, is among a group of rookies who are ineligible to participate in organized team activities (OTAs) and offseason workouts because of an NFL rule that prohibits incoming rookies from taking part until after their final exams.

With Chris Ballard and Ted Monago moving on to other teams for promotions, the Bears opted to promote two of their own late Monday.

The Bears promoted Kevin Turks to director of pro personnel and Dwayne Joseph to associate director of pro personnel.

Their promotions come after Ballard and Monago, two longtime scouts for the team, left to the organization. Ballard, the Bears' previous director of pro scouting, left to be the Kansas City Chiefs' director of player personnel. Monago, previously an executive scout for the Bears in charge of scouting the very important SEC, joined the St. Louis Rams' as a national scout.

Turks has been with the Bears since 2001. He was named a pro scout a year later and became assistant director of pro personnel in 2008.

Joseph, who played cornerback for the Bears in 1995, was named the team's assistant director of pro scouting last June. Before that, he was the Bears' director of player development.

The Bears also hired Ryan Kessenich as a scout. Kessenich was an area scout for the Kansas City Chiefs the past four seasons.

The Bears will have to replace another valuable set of eyes this offseason with longtime scout Ted Monago leaving for a promotion with the St. Louis Rams.

Monago, who just finished his 12th season with the Bears, was an executive scout with a focus on the SEC, which is by far the best conference in college football right now. Monago will be a national scout for the Rams.

Monago's departure comes just days after director of pro scouting Chris Ballard left for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ballard is now the Chiefs' director of player personnel, overseeing their pro and college scouting.

Monago was promoted and assigned to the SEC in June 2012 as general manager Phil Emery reshaped and added to his staff. The Bears' 2013 draft class includes two players from the SEC, Florida linebacker Jon Bostic (50th overall) and Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington (188).

The Bears lost a rising star on Friday.

Chris Ballard, the Bears' director of pro scouting, is leaving the team for a promotion with the Kansas City Chiefs. Ballard will oversee the Chiefs' college and pro scouting departments, essentially becoming new general manager John Dorsey's right-hand man.

Khaseem Greene in action.jpgThe Bears have agreed to terms on four-year contracts with fourth-round draft pick Khaseem Greene and seventh-round draft pick Marquess Wilson.

Greene, a 6-1, 241-pound linebacker from Rutgers, was the 117th overall pick in the draft. Wilson, a 6-4, 184-pound wide receiver from Washington State, was the 236th pick of the draft.

On Wednesday, the Bears agreed to terms with offensive tackle Jordan Mills of Louisiana Tech, their fifth-round pick and defensive end Cornelius Washington, their sixth-round pick.

Four of the Bears' six draft picks have agreed to terms and are not expected to have trouble signing the remaining two: guard Kyle Long, their first-round pick from Oregon, and linebacker Jon Bostic, their second-round pick from Florida.

Last year the Bears signed first-round pick Shea McClellin two weeks after the draft and had all six of their picks signed within 19 days of the draft. The rookie wage scale of the collective bargaining agreement has all but eliminated the contentious holdouts of previous seasons.

The Bears' three-day rookie mini-camp for their draft picks and undrafted free agents opens May 10 at Halas Hall. It is not open to the public.

Two down, four more to go.

The Bears are wasting little time reaching deals with their 2013 draft class, announcing they've agreed to terms with offensive tackle Jordan Mills and defensive end Cornelius Washington on four-year contracts on Wednesday.

Mills and Washington are the first draft picks this year to sign with their respective teams. Bears first-round pick Kyle Long, a guard from Oregon, remains unsigned. Deals also need to be reached with linebackers Jon Bostic (Florida) and Khaseem Greene (Rutgers) and receiver Marquess Wilson (Washington State).

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