Rounding into form

Although head coach Lovie Smith acknowledged that the Bears had unexpected problems with injuries to starters during the first week of training camp, he felt that overall, things had gone well for the team.

Smith defended the new policy of hard-hitting practices, explaining that this approach was a realistic way to prepare the players for the beginning of the regular season.

"The speed of these sessions is probably greater than what the Bears have encountered during camp in the past, but you can be certain that once we start lining up against other teams, it will pay off for us," Smith said. "It's much better to have the players in top condition as soon as possible so they will be able to go all out through four quarters."

The overall goal of training camp according to Smith is to give his players a competitive edge.

"I think that you can see this happening already," Smith said. "Just look at the practice we had this morning. The offense was driving pretty hard to the goal line. At this point in time, I think that the OL is a bit ahead of the DL. That's to be expected and will change throughout the summer. The players are picking up the system quite rapidly. It's just a question of who will be best able to implement what has been learned."

Veteran Bryan Robinson has already seen a difference in the quality of his play.

"I've lost some weight and I'm moving a lot quicker this year," Robinson said. "I feel that I have my edge back and am ready to roll. The intensity among the players is so much greater than it had been in the past. Everybody is working hard to get in shape, to lose weight and to excel."

Robinson sees the benefit in the nature of Smith's non-stop workouts.

"We're getting lean and mean," Robinson said. "I've lost 20 pounds already and feel that I'm on top of my game. Most of the other players are saying the same thing. I think that other teams will be surprised when they face us this fall."

The weather has been unseasonably cool, which has helped players make it through the first week without further complications.

"Usually you are dealing with that terrible heat and humidity. That's when it can take something out of a player," Smith said. "It may not feel much like the middle of summer here right now, but that's to our advantage. I suspect all of that will change next week when we get to Macomb."

At the top of Smith's wish list for the next few weeks is to get as many starters back in the lineup as possible.

"I realize that you can't rush thing," Smith said. "We have a few more than we'd like out right now. But we'll get through this and be stronger for it. For now, we'll use who we have and see how they perform under this kind of pressure. It should give the coaches a good idea as far as what these players are made of."

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