Chicago Sun-Times

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Add Charlie Weis to the list of available possible offensive coordinators.

The New York Daily News has reported that Notre Dame has taken care of the fully expected and canned Charlie Weis.

It was a forgettable era for the university going all the way back to the sham of a hiring process used to bring Weis in. The school asked ex-Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache to come speak with them about the position. Blache said he wasn't interested. The school called back. Blache said he wasn't interested. Finally, school officials played on his loyalty as an alum and he agreed to meet with them provided it remained private.

Then, unscrupulous school officials leaked the fact that they had met with Blache to media, making it known the Irish had interviewed a minority coaching candidate after firing Tyrone Willingham, an African-American.


Need proof the NFL is a year-round business? We've got plenty of football news moving toward mid-June with training camp less than eight weeks away. We're going to get to a Four Down Territory Q&A on Monday, so if you have any last-minute questions to submit, get them in. Let's cover seven issues here in a hurry-up offense:

1. General manager Jerry Angelo addressed the health of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris last week on the team's Web site. Harris has done occasional on-field work in the voluntary offseason workout program. When media was allowed at Halas Hall last Wednesday, Harris participated in positional drills.

"There's no major concern with him,'' Angelo said. "He's going to be up and going at some point here in the OTA's. We feel good about where he's at medically. There's nothing to be alarmed about. This is the offseason. We want to make sure that we take care of our players to the best of our ability and we're always going to err on the side of caution in the offseason. He's got an issue with his knee; we know that. He has to be smart about it, which he is. We've got to be smart about it, which we are. Is his knee pristine? No. it's not. But it's not something that he can't perform well with. We've been real smart about how to bring Tommie along in terms of his training program. He's not the only player. There are customized programs for most of our players because we don't want the wear and tear to happen during the offseason. We just want to be smart about how we bring our players along. We don't want to waste any mileage that players have in the offseason. The wear and tear comes during the season, not the offseason. The offseason is dedicated to conditioning, strengthening and training our players within our offensive and defensive schemes."

OUR SPIN: Look for Harris' work in training camp to be monitored closely and he could see limited action in preseason too. In the past, coach Lovie Smith has kept him off artificial surfaces in preseason and the Bears open the preseason at Buffalo, which uses an AstroPlay field at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bears are counting on big things from Harris after paying him a $6.67 million roster bonus and they're going to preserve him for when it matters most. The next big payoff in Harris' deal is a $2.5 million roster bonus due June 1, 2010. The club would like his balky left knee to be no worse for the wear then. We wrote it here a while back, don't look for players with questionable injury concerns to land rich deals from the Bears again, not after Angelo's comments about closely scrutinizing medical records when it comes to draft picks.

2. ESPN's Sal Paolontonio
reports that the lawyer for wide receiver Plaxico Burress is maneuvering behind the scenes in efforts to reach a plea deal before Burress' next court appearance in New York on June 15.

"Three teams are believed to be serious enough about considering Burress for the 2009 season that they have contacted his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to inquire about his legal status: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets."

OUR SPIN: The Jets and Bucs both had interest in landing quarterback Jay Cutler. Could the Bears beat them to the quarterback and the wide receiver? Obviously, Burress' legal situation needs to be ironed out before anyone is going to offer him a contract, but that process could happen sooner rather than later. He's still likely to face a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell. How many games Burress would get is anyone's guess. Ex-Bear Tank Johnson received an eight-game suspension following the 2006 season after the raid on his Gurnee home. There was a provision in that suspension that allowed Johnson to be re-instated after six games. Remember, though, Johnson had a previous weapons arrest during his Bears' career. He was busted outside a downtown nightclub for having a weapon in his vehicle.


One safety with Chicago ties is expected to announce his retirement today.

Another will look for a new place to continue his career.

Rodney Harrison, the Markham native and former star at Marian Catholic, is expected to reveal on a conference call that he will move from the secondary to the broadcast end of the business. Meanwhile, ex-Bear Mike Brown will make a free-agent visit to the Kansas City Chiefs today, a league source told the Sun-Times.

One of the most popular players in post-Super Bowl XX franchise history, the Bears bid goodbye to Brown after this past season when his contract expired. Five years younger than Harrison at 31, Brown is looking to catch on with the Chiefs, who have been re-tooling their defense but lack depth in the secondary. A contract offer is possible and the timing would be ideal as Kansas City's mandatory minicamp is this weekend. Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard are the projected starters but Brown could push them for a job immediately.

Whether he was in San Diego or New England, Harrison was considered a leader, and no one questioned Brown's unquestioned status as the leader and pulse of the Bears' defense for most of the past decade. The only time Brown didn't lead was when he was sidelined by injury, something that happened more than anyone cared for over the last five seasons. Brown missed 44 regular-season games from 2004 to 2008, but was so indispensible when he was on the field that the Bears kept going back to him. A calf muscle injury cut last season short for him by one game.


While the Bears held their mandatory veteran minicamp just as soon as possible, most teams have just gotten into the swing of things.

Arizona, Carolina, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington all held mandatory full-team minicamps over the weekend.

Meanwhile, veteran safety Mike Brown remains without a team. It's not by choice at this point. Multiple league sources said Brown plans to continue his playing career and one source said he wants to prove that he's still able to perform at the top of his game. The problem he faces right now is the later it gets, and the more teams that go through minicamps and proceed into their offseason programs, the more difficult it is going to be to find work. Teams want to get players up to speed on their schemes and playbook in the spring so they can hit the field running in training camp.

Some thought Brown would land a job quickly after the draft after teams assessed what was on their roster and where they needed to fill holes with a secondary venture into the free-agent market. That has not happened. Whether or not teams have expressed interest in Brown, we don't know, but he could surely be had for the league minimum at this point. Few players signed in May are going to get much different.

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