Earning their stripes

Rookies have a lot to learn on and off the field, but they begin to prove their worth in training camp. The Bears inked first- round picks <!--Default NodeId For Michael Haynes is 738187,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:738187]>Michael Haynes</A> and <!--Default NodeId For Rex Grossman is 738189,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:738189]>Rex Grossman</A> late Thursday night, but there are still three picks unsigned.

The team agreed to a six-year deal with Haynes and a five-year deal with Grossman. Fourth-round pick Ian Scott also agreed to a four-year deal Thursday.

The Bears have agreed to terms with nine of their 12 2003 draft picks heading into the first day of camp, which concludes Aug. 15.

Although progress is being made on some fronts there is still a lot of work to be done. Bears head coach Dick Jauron knows there is a process to working out deals, but is eager to get everyone out on the field.

"It's critical for them to get into camp and it's critical for us to have them in camp," said head coach Dick Jauron. "I know that both sides are negotiating. They're trying to get it done and they want to get it done. It's ongoing; we're talking to all of their representatives."

Haynes is expected to contribute in third down pass rush situations, but could work his way into a starting role with an impressive camp.

Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Bobby Wade have yet to sign a deal. Missing the opening days will not put him in good standing with the coaching staff or his fellow teammates.

"As far as football goes you should be here because they (coaches) throw a lot at you the first few days," said Alex Brown, who will compete for playing time with Haynes. "But, even more important you gain respect from your peers if you are here the first day. You don't come in three days later or a week later and you have fresh legs, while we've been grinding the whole time."

Brown is an example of what hard work in training camp can do for a player. Coming in as a fourth-round selection he wasn't expected to play much as a rookie, but he started nine of the final ten games of the season.

Participating in practices from day one is critical for all rookies, but even more so for a first year quarterback. Rex Grossman probably won't see the field this year unless Kordell Stewart goes down or the team struggles, but missing time might have retarded his development for years to come.

"Every day is so important to a young player and particularly a quarterback," Jauron said. "Once this process starts there is not the time to go back and spend the individual time with him and catch him up."

Bear Report Top Stories