I thought it was an excellent conclusion at practice today and most importantly, everybody came out of it safely. That was really the key throughout this whole offseason program, was that we get them through safely and get them to training camp healthy. And other than a few nicks and taking care and resting some players, we felt pretty good about that. I think they've done a really good job. It seems like it's been awhile since we started, but really very, very good focus by our guys, each and every day, came in and did the work and worked to get better and win each and every day.
I thought today was really a good example of the kind of guys we have. They certainly could have had their cars started and one foot in the parking lot. That's the way it is sometimes, on the last day going into a break, so to speak. And that wasn't the case and I told them that after practice. I thought they were locked in. The practice was fun. I thought it was great energy — you guys were there … ladies and gentlemen were there. Good energy. Very efficient practice and competitive practice on both sides of the ball.
When I met with them, I think the most important thing I said when I met with them after practice in the auditorium, I did a number of things, but the specific things were that it's time to get away the next few weeks until training camp, but it's not a vacation. Guys have to get ready to go. They have to have a plan to get ready to go, to optimize their strength and conditioning and to continue to develop their skills as we work and again, as I did last year, I showed them the differences between training camp in the year 2000 and 2014. How limited the practice time is, which can be a good thing if they prepare properly going into camp and come in in the best condition possible. That's really what we talked about at the end of the day.
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF Jimmy Clausen?
We're going through the process today of trying to work a little bit with our roster. I think Jimmy has competed and done a good job for the time that he's been here and I would expect that he'll be with us.
WHAT WERE YOU KEYING IN ON AS YOU EVALUATED HIM?
No. 1 is how he handled the room. As I've said many times, that room is hugely important, the chemistry, the karma, whatever you want to call it, the communication has got to be good. Jimmy has done a very good job, very maturely fit in and taken the place of trying to learn and work to learn the offense. He's grinding at it as well. He's spent long hours here. He's had help from the guys in the room to get him where he is today. So we'll see. We're going through the process of working with our roster. I think that he'll be one of the guys that we do bring back and we'll take it one day at a time when we get to training camp.
CAN YOU CONFIRM OR DENY THAT Fendi Onobun HAS BEEN CUT?
I think what I'd like to do out of respect for the guys on this team is we're really going through finalizing and finishing the process with some roster movement and as soon as we get it all done we'll get it out to you guys. It's not complete yet, so I think it would be inappropriate to talk about it at this moment. As soon as we do get it all under control and execute it, we'll make sure we get it out.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF HIS OFFSEASON?
I think I'd rather not comment on that at this time.
WHAT IS YOUR SENSE OF WHAT THE D-LINE HAS ACCOMPLISHED WITH SO MANY NEW GUYS?
I think it all starts with Mel. And with Paul and Clint and Joe Kim. All these guys are really working together. And Paul setting the tone in the meeting rooms and with how they go about doing their business. And then we've got a veteran element there, too. The addition of Lamarr and Willie and of course Jared, there's an element of energy and focus and maturity in there and that's not even inclusive of the guys who have been with us. And then we've got some young guys obviously some new guys who bring some young legs and life to the room. I thin they're all doing a good job of working together and when you watch practice, they never stop working, from start to finish. Paul's working with them in some phase, Joe is or Clint is. I think they've embraced that, enjoying the comaraderie of the room and what we're trying to get done. Because it all starts with them.
EDWARDS AND SPURLOCK AS KICK RETURNERS
I really like the two of them. I think they are competing. Through their athleticism, they catch the ball well. They haven't had a lot of the targets the other guys have had. They're very good in the meeting room, they're showing the ability to learn the offense and they're going to compete. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do in camp.
I think he's up there with all the other guys, anybody other than Matt. The issue we have is we have a logjam from 2 to 5, and Jordan is in that logjam, and a lot of that going to be balanced out with special teams and other aspects of it. I'm looking forward to seeing him in pads and seeing these younger guys play in the games and competing both at the running back position and at the special teams side of it, and Jordan's doing well.
I think the simple fact that we've rotated him with the 1's is a clear indication that we think he can compete, but we're not going to anoint him yet. You've got to be very careful with young players, they get in shorts and they're doing well and then you put on the pads and you've got to see how they are in pads, and then you have to see what happens when the Eagles come in to town and when the Jaguars come in to town and see how they do there. There's no reason to think that he can't put himself in position to compete for one of those jobs, but it's way, way too early, we've certainly noticed him because we've put him in those positions in the course of the OTA's and minicamp.
He's competing at a receiver position, you saw that today, had a good day today. Obviously he's also competing at the return position. I don't think I can answer that question, I don't think we're going to know until we get into games. We certainly see flashes of it in practice but I think we're going to learn more about it as we move along into these games and see how he does in those situations, but there's nothing that we've seen up to this point where we think that he can't do it. We'll see.
WHO IS THE LEADER IN THE BACKUP RB COMPETITION?
I don't know that there is right now. We've got a really good competition. I think Michael Ford has really progressed. I'm going to be curious obviously to see what Ka'Deem does, everybody knows what he did at the college level, and where he'll be in these games. We've talked about Jordan already, and you've got Senorise and Shaun. Both have done a great job of competing in these camps. They're smart guys, they've learned the offense, they pick things up very quickly. When they make a mistake, they generally don't make it twice. You just don't know in shorts. Like you said, it's a logjam, and we really don't know, and I don't think we will know until we get more into training camp and certainly into the games. We've got to do the best we can to try to get him some carries and see what he can do with the football.
WILL CONTE BE ON PUP LIST TO START CAMP?
I don't have a thought on that right now. Since you brought up Chris, I want to be clear with what I said, I don't think I was. We sent him home because he's been sick with something that could be contagious. It's nothing serious, I want to make that very clear. We sent him home for a couple days so he could rest. I just wanted to make that clear because I didn't make that clear the other day, but he should be fine and we'll see where he is when we get back. I couldn't answer this at this time.
Marquess has been steady. There's been a lot of talk, a lot of buzz about Marquess. And he's competing and he's made his mistakes too. But he's had a good, solid OTAs and a good, solid mini-camp. And he's a very smart guy. He's been very steady. He has great demeanor. Excellent work ethic off the field as well as on. And again, it's one of those we'll see again. Certainly, I think Jay feels comfortable with him out there. They communicate well together. And we're excited. But we're going to wait and see. We're not going to be easy on guys when they get these opportunities. They don't want to be anointed and I certainly don't want to anoint them. They've got to earn it. We've got a lot of different ways to go with these packages. We've got multiple a tight ends. We don't have to be a one tight end team. We've got guys competing to get on the field and to produce. So Marquess is right up there, no doubt about it. We're excited about that.
PEP TALKS: DITKA, SINGLETARY, OTIS … WHAT NEXT?
We've got some things scheduled for camp. I think that everybody hears messages differently, Peggy. So the three or four guys we brought in, essentially they all say the same thing but they all say it differently. And when they hear it form guys who played in 1965 or coached in '85 or played in '85 and they were Bears, that's cool. When they've had success in their own personal careers with how they've approached things, their words can be powerful. Because they're hearing it from people they don't necessarily hear it from every day. So I think it's a good mix to do that. And we try to be mindful of who we bring in. Because any time you bring in somebody, there's somebody else you're leaving out that we can bring in and that's the other side of it. That makes it very hard. But we try to make decisions that you think are mindful enough and understanding enough where everybody knows that you're trying to do the right thing.
PLAYERS DIG THIS?
I think you've got to ask them that. I think that everybody gets something else out of it. We've got some powerful messages from the men that have come by. And it's kind of … when you stand in front of a team and there are 90 guys there, everybody's going to hear your words differently. And anybody who steps in front of a team, not everybody's going to hear their words as they're intended. It can be powerful. But I think it's created some conversation and some life amongst the guys.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.