Chicago Sun-Times

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears now have only two open spots on the 80-man roster after punter Richmond McGee signed a one-year contract this afternoon. He will be on the field when the Bears practice for the first time this summer in 90 minutes.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears made their second roster move of the day when they announced this morning that guard Dennis Conley has been released.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The countdown has ended.

The most anticipated training camp in the nine years we've been on the beat (that doesn't say a lot, but there is far more buzz now than in 2007 after the Super Bowl) has finally arrived. Let's jump into a couple of issues real quick. I'll be Tweeting throughout the day, follow me at BradBiggs, and expect some blog updates here and there. Remember, you can also find the Twitter feed on the right hand side of the blog.

Issue 1: Devin Hester wants Jay Cutler to get in his face and get on players.

"We want that,'' Hester said. "That's what we need. At the end of the day, it's not about the coaches, it's about the players. And whenever you get a guy like that that steps up as far as Olin Kreutz, Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, those types of guys--they're the ones that need to be coaching. They're the key guys and that's who the players are going to look up to and we're going to listen to them. At the end of the day we're out there playing with them. You can't hear the coaches on the field [during games], so when those guys step up and get on a player, it really helps our team and that's what bonds the players and brings us to a family, a unit. Whenever you get a quarterback like Jay, when he gets in his groove and then when he starts speaking up and feels a little more confident, that's when our offense is going to start clicking.''

Our spin: Makes sense. Cutler is going to be a take charge quarterback and this is a young and inexperienced wide receiving corps that needs the quarterback to grab it by the horns from time to time. It's good to hear Hester saying this.

If you're following the blog of Richmond McGee, the logical next logical step is for the Bears to have the free-agent punter take the roster spot created by the retirement of Glenn Earl.

The veteran safety Earl, a Naperville North and Notre Dame product, informed the team he plans to retire on Tuesday, and an official announcement will likely come today. Earl's departure drops the Bears' roster to 79 players, giving them one open slot. Although cornerbacks Charles Tillman will be placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) on Friday, it's the active PUP list teams can use in training camp. That will not create an additional roster spot.

Instead of bringing in an additional defensive back (the Bears have eight cornerbacks not counting Tillman and six safeties without Earl), the Bears could sign McGee. He believes the Bears are going to, at least at some point in the very near future.

"Nothing is official until I sign next month,'' McGee wrote on his blog. "But they are offering me a one-year contract.''

By the time training camp comes around the Bears will have a real good idea what their emergency punter list looks like for this season.

The team brought in two punters for a workout on Tuesday during the OTA at Halas Hall.

The Bears got a look at veteran Derrick Frost, who played in 12 games last season with Green Bay, and Richmond McGee, who spent last summer on Philadelphia's roster. Previously, Frost played three seasons in Washington and one year in Cleveland. Although he was primarily a punter at Texas, McGee handled some kicking duties as well and was a member of the Longhorns' national championship team. His versatility could be a plus in camp.

"A few teams have been calling about Derrick,'' his agent Bob Lattinville said. "I think since he's a known commodity he's a guy that will get picked up now.''

Frost had his best season in 2006 for the Redskins when he averaged 42.9 yards per punt and had a net of 38.9. McGee worked out earlier this offseason for the Buffalo Bills.

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