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ATLANTA--Time will tell, but it could prove to be one of the most productive scouting trips of general manager Jerry Angelo's career.

He was headed to Tampa last week to scout the South Florida-Cincinnati game, and after some initial discussions with Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, who was groomed for a time under Angelo, they agreed to meet face-to-face. That is how the trade on Friday for defensive end Gaines Adams got done with the Bears shipping out their second-round draft pick in 2010 for the No. 4 pick in the 2007 draft.

Angelo understands that Adams, who will not be active for tonight's game against the Falcons, is being labeled a bust in Tampa. They said the same thing about Cedric Benson, who he drafted fourth overall in 2005.

"I have seen situations like that,'' he said. "You get a few position coaches and a scheme change, the fourth pick in the draft, big fish bowl not living up to expectations. Hey, I have been part of it. We've seen it. We feel very strongly about our scheme, we feel very strongly about our coaches, we feel very strongly about the way we evaluate players. We did all of our due diligence and we felt like we're going to make this happen. There are risks to a draft pick, there is risk to this. I'm just hoping he is coming in here wanting to be a great player. If he is, I feel like we have all the tools to facilitate him coming to fruition.''

Angelo understands it probably didn't make the guys already in the Bears defensive line room happy. Adams will join a rotation that right now is Alex Brown-Adewale Ogunleye-Mark Anderson. It's not that he's unhappy with any of those players, and, yes, Ogunleye and Anderson could both return next season.

"I'm sure I didn't make any friends over this with the defensive line,'' Angelo said. "But I like them all. I just feel like you can't have enough of them. Unlike the offensive line, you play a lot of defensive linemen. We have a rotation. It's a pretty good rotation. He is hopefully another player that is going to add to the mix. It starts with the front, you know that, both on the offensive and defensive lines. I just felt like the value of what he does was too great not to take advantage of this opportunity.

"I'm not anticipating us doing anything with anybody other than what they are already doing. We just got another guy to be in the mix. It's a second-round draft pick. Does he have to be special? He doesn't have to be special. He has to be a good rank-and-file player we can win with. His position, and I can't minimize this, has tremendous value in our scheme. That had a lot of weight in our decision. These guys aren't easy to find and when you get an opportunity to potentially get one, you act on it."

The Bears' first encounter with running back Cedric Benson is drawing more attention from the network.

The NFL mas moved back the kickoff time of the Bears' game at Cincinnati on Oct. 25 from noon until 3:15 p.m., and that will most likely allow the game to be shown to a wider audience. Currently, Fox has two other games in that time slot--Atlanta at Dallas and New Orleans at Miami.

A case can be made that Michael Crabtree made $2 million for each of the first four games of the season he missed for the San Francisco 49ers.

The package the wide receiver received Wednesday when he finally ended an exhausting contract impasse with the organization was for $8 million more than the club had on the table. Now, Crabtree has to go about his business on the field and that's the big question, what can he accomplish as a rookie? The 49ers received a roster exemption from the NFL for this week, and he'll be able to make his debut Oct. 25 at Houston. The Bears travel to San Francisco shortly after that for a Nov. 12 game, which could be Crabtree's fourth game in uniform.

Can he be productive by then in offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's conservative attack? Will the 10th pick in the draft be a difference maker.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo had some strong feelings on the issue--rookie holdouts--in general. Of course, he went through one four seasons ago when running back Cedric Benson showed up 36 days late after a holdout that involved Eugene Parker, the same man who represents Crabtree.


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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears will get to see two members of their lost draft class from 2005 this season, starting with Kyle Orton in 26 days when they travel to Denver for the Cutler Bowl in the third preseason game. With NBC's ``Sunday Night Football'' crew handling the game, it's sure to get plenty of hype in the coming weeks.

Orton was the lone remaining member of the 2005 class until he was traded with a bounty of draft picks for Cutler on April 2. Five of the six players from that draft remain in the league, but the Bears are scheduled to see only one of them, and that person probably has the date circled on the calendar. Running back Cedric Benson will face his former team in Week 7 when the Bears head to Cincinnati. Benson is locked in as the Bengals' starting running back after signing a $7 million, two-year contract in the offseason. Cincinnati signed him off the discard pile in Week 5 last year after injuries ravaged its backfield, and the former No. 4 overall pick was thrown into the mix immediately.

He finished with career highs in carries (214) and yards (747) in two-thirds of the season and without the benefit of much of a passing game as Carson Palmer was injured. Benson cemented his future in the Queen City by rushing for 355 yards on 84 attempts in the final three games. Granted, two of those contests were against the 28th-ranked run defense (Cleveland) and the 30th-ranked run defense (Kansas City).

"I'm sure they know they made a mistake [releasing me]," Benson told me on Monday for the National Football Post, "after the way I finished last season. But I'm not worried about them. It's in the past and I've moved on. I had a career-high in touches and yards in a little more than half a season, more than I ever had in Chicago. That tells you the story right there."

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Our daily countdown to training camp is being thrown off schedule just a little bit by some more company-imposed breaks, and Saturday is one of those days. So we'll post another countdown to training camp right now and get back to it on Sunday when we're welcome in the office again.

Once again, Jay Cutler dominated the conversation in an online chat hosted by KC Joyner. Talking football for an hour on ESPN.com on Thursday, Joyner got hit from many angles on Cutler. As you might imagine, he stuck to his theory that Cutler will win some games for the Bears but he will also lose some because of his risk taking. If you want to take a look at the entire chat, it's right here. Joyner watches as much tape as anybody doing statistical analysis out there.

"I've said it many times and I'll say it again, Cutler will make Bears fans remember Rex Grossman,'' Joyner said. "He'll make just as many crazy passes but won't suffer the Grossman fate because Chicago's fan base is so in love with him that they will forgive the nutty throws he makes in ways that they never forgave Grossman."

Think it could be so? Grossman came under fire during 2006 even when the Bears were winning. Could the same thing happen to Cutler? Our bet would be that he will have an extended honeymoon.

So, one chat follower responded, "That's the craziest assumption I've ever heard in my life. If Cutler is as bad as Grossman, you'll get promoted and Jay will be run out of town with JA [Jerry Angelo], Lovie [Smith] and company.''

Responded Joyner: "It's funny. Whenever I say Cutler will remind Bears fans of Grossman, they get all up in arms. All Grossman did was take Chicago to their first Super Bowl in years and the Bears fans couldn't run him out of the starting spot quick enough. They'll win with Cutler but man will they grit their teeth when he blows a game or two with his over the top risk taking.

"You know what really bothers me about Cutler? The idea that fans can't comment on him in a non-emotional manner. Every Bears fan thinks he is the next coming of Jim McMahon. When I point out that he has performance issues and that Grossman had those same issues, they just go overboard instead of saying, `Hey, that's a good point, can he improve in that area?'

"I'm basing my Cutler comments on three seasons of Denver tape breakdowns. He's a huge risk-taker and that equates to about 1 in 20 of his passes being an [interception] or near [interception] because of a mistake on his part. He'll win games in the Windy City and when he does, I'll hear it from Bears fans. I just want to hear from those same fans when his risk-taking costs the team a big game and I'll all but guarantee that will happen.''

If that wasn't enough Bears chatter for a one-hour session, Joyner was also asked about running back Matt Forte.

"Forte will be this generation's Brian Westbrook,'' Joyner said. "He'll have a great year no matter who is behind center for Chicago."

That stopped us for a minute and got us thinking. Typically, Forte has been compared to other tall running backs, Eddie George is the first that comes to mind. Running backs Tim Spencer, who coached George at Ohio State, has even drawn the parallels. We've heard people use Marcus Allen and Eric Dickerson as comparables also but think linking a second-year back to Hall of Famers is a little premature, maybe a lot premature. But Westbrook has been a dominant force in Philadelphia for some time. He's been an integral part of the Eagles' offense since coming into the league in 2002, and he topped 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2007.

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It has reached the point where it's hard to believe the Jay Cutler saga will not be resolved until the quarterback receives a new contract.

From the Denver Broncos or from a team the Broncos trade him to because right now this storyline looks like it will be as everlasting as the Brett Favre mess a year ago.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has even come to terms with the fact that the Broncos could be moving forward without their quarterback, who reached a Pro Bowl after just his second full season starting in the league. This, after a face-to-face meeting at the team's headquarters in which no progress was made between Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels, who had hoped to acquire Matt Cassel in a trade last month.

"I'm very disappointed," Bowlen said Sunday. "I'm disappointed in the whole picture, not just disappointed that we might lose our star quarterback."

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If it rains like this next week, the Bears will have no chance of practicing outside at Halas Hall for the minicamp. Before we get washed away here, or buried under a pile of safety and receiver questions, let's dive into the mailbag.

Q: Now that the first wave of free agency has passed and the Bears still haven't addressed their need for a starting free safety, do you think there's a chance they might still bring back Mike Brown? Brown seems to be the best option remaining given his knowledge of the defense, and I doubt Jerry Angelo will find someone in the draft that can contribute more, at least in the immediate future.

C. Washington, Kokomo, Ind.

A: This is just one of a handful of inquiries we've had about Brown recently. You're the lucky one to have yours selected.

No, I don't see any way the Bears have a change of heart and reach out to Brown. When they made the decision to move forward and not offer him a contract, that was a clean break. It's one Angelo nearly made a year ago. Yes, Brown had value when he was on the field last season but he's a strong safety and strictly a strong safety. Remember, the coaching staff made that switch to get him closer to the line of scrimmage midway through the season. Brown isn't the answer to their strong safety needs. The second half of the season was also when Brown had trouble finishing out games. You'll recall he couldn't finish three games and then was placed on inured reserve before the season finale at Houston. The Bears were in the playoff hunt. If they felt Brown could help them in the playoffs, he would have remained active. That tells you a little something about what was at least a four-week injury, right?

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There was some more movement today in free agency with Laveranues Coles landing in Cincinnati and Matt Birk, the Pro Bowl center from Minnesota, heading to Baltimore, which was able to re-sign Ray Lewis. Let's get to the mailbag:

Q: It's never good to start a statement like this, but call me crazy. If USC's Rey Maualuga drops to Chicago at 18, would the Bears let that thought cross their minds? Would they consider him? Mock drafts have him going anywhere from fifth overall to the end of the first round. Does it make sense to draft the top-rated inside linebacker in the draft even though the Bears have Brian Urlacher? Would the Bears allow themselves to look into the future at that all-important-in-Chicago position, or do they just have too many needs to address? I keep hearing Jerry Angelo say that he's trying to put Chicago in position to draft the best player available, regardless of position. Does he mean any position except middle linebacker?

Sean Q., Eureka, Calif.

A: That's a good question and it's good for a couple of reasons. First, the position is pretty well stacked this season and general manager Jerry Angelo addressed just that at the combine saying as many as five linebackers could be selected in the first round.

"[You] won't see as good a group as this linebacker cast, as many as five and really quality,'' he said. "The linebackers should be real strong due to the fact that I thought potentially four could have come out last year and were thinking about it and they all four stayed in.''

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Cedric Benson, freshly minted with a $7 million, two-year contract that will make him the starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, called himself ``fully rejuvenated'' Wednesday morning appearing on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN AM-1000.

Benson told hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman that he is looking forward to facing the Bears in the regular season in 2009. He didn't have any regrets on his time with the Bears, which was cut short in June after his second drinking-related incident in Texas in a five-week span. Eventually, Benson was cleared of charges stemming from his boating and driving arrests but not before the Bears had pulled the plug on the fourth overall pick of the 2005 draft and not after the Bears had dropped $13.8 million on Benson.

Kevin Jones listed the Buffalo Bills as one of the teams interested in him on Saturday and that interest has materialized into a visit. Profootballtalk.com reports that Jones will visit the team at its Orchard Park, N.Y., headquarters on Wednesday.

The Bears have made a contract offer to Jones with hopes of bringing him back to share the workload with Matt Forte and Garrett Wolfe. The Bills could potentially offer a situation with more play time. Marshawn Lynch finds himself in legal trouble for the second consecutive offseason and Fred Jackson is the only other back in place. Buffalo had tried to lure Fred Taylor before he signed in New England.

We're just past 21 1/2 hours into free agency and while the action hasn't been as fast as it was a year ago for the Bears when they were hoping to pry Bernard Berrian out of Minnesota and then plotting to get Lance Briggs back at their price, it's been an interesting start.

It's clear the club has out the trenches at the top of the list for this offseason. Rod Marinelli has been brought in to rework the defensive line, and the first move in free agency was signing versatile offensive lineman Frank Omiyale to a four-year contract. Next on general manager Jerry Angelo's wish list appears to be veteran John St. Clair, who can also play four positions on the line.

One of the first signs here is that the Bears want to get bigger on the offensive line. While the natural first reaction was that Omiyale would step in immediately as the right tackle--the Bears don't have one on their roster--Angelo said the club will first look at him at guard, most likely left guard. Angelo isn't pigeon holing him there, and said he'll likely get looks elsewhere, but that's the first idea. Clearly, that means work remains to be done at tackle. St. Clair and a high draft pick could accomplish that. Getting another lineman on board would also aid Angelo in is quest to not be need-driven with the 18th pick in the draft.

UPDATED: Benson makes statement

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A day after two grand juries in Austin, Texas, cleared former Bears' first-round draft pick Cedric Benson of all charges from his two alcohol-related arrests this spring, he released a statement through attorney David Cornwell:

"I appeared before two grand juries yesterday and finally got the chance to tell my side of the story," Benson said. "I am grateful that the grand jurors agreed that I did not commit any crimes.

"This ordeal is finally behind me, but I will use the experience to continue to grow as a person and as a professional football player."

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Cedric Benson category.

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