Bears Notes from the Combine

In a decision that comes from little more than desperation, John Tait will move from right to left tackle unless the Bears find add a starter in the off-season.

At this point the Bears have decided to move John Tait to left tackle. Although things could change depending on what happens in free agency and the draft, the starting offensive line would be Tait protecting the quarterback's blindside, LG Ruben Brown, C Olin Kreutz, RG Terrence Metcalf and RT Qasim Mitchell.

The top backups would be Marc Colombo and Steve Edwards. Aaron Gibson will be allowed to leave as unrestricted free agent.

Metcalf and Edwards are both restricted free agents that will be tendered minimum offers of one-year at $656,000, which would give the team a chance to match any offer they may receive. If they decline to match, the Bears would then receive draft pick compensation in the round the player was originally selected.

The same can be said of restricted free agents TE John Gilmore, S Bobby Gray and TE John Owens.

Special teams standout Todd McMillon will likely be retained, but Anthony Thomas' days in Chicago have come to an end.

The Bears have no plans to make any salary cap cuts before the start of free agency on March 2nd. However, GM Jerry Angelo didn't rule out the possibility depending on who is acquired in the off-season.

One player that continues to be on the hot seat is PK Paul Edinger, who not only struggled on kickoffs but also missed an NFL high 9 field goal attempts last season.

"We weren't pleased with our kicking game," Lovie Smith said Friday at the NFL combine. "We have to have a better field-goal percentage than we had this past year."

Smith publicly backed CB R.W. McQuarters and G Rex Tucker, who because of their salary cap numbers and likelihood not to start have been considered potential cuts.

"R.W. is one of our DBs," Smith said. "We think he's a great punt returner. His punt returns really kept us in a lot of games this past year. So he's a valuable part of what we're doing."

Despite Smith saying ‘Rex is definitely still in our plans also,' Tucker finished a third straight season on Injured Reserve. Angelo failed to mention him as he went down the offensive line depth chart to include players that are going to NFL Europe.

The Bears not only have a new conditioning coordinator in Rusty Jones, but the team will also alter their training schedule. The off-season workout program is being pushed back to mid April in an attempt to keep players healthy and then will finish a week earlier than last year to give everyone more time to rest before the start of training camp in late July.

"We're going to try to condense it a little bit more," Smith said. "We'll try to give the guys a week or two on both ends to get it a little bit shorter. But it will basically be the same thing as the National Football League team to team."

The team will hold their only mini-camp starting May 21st, which is usually scheduled the week after the draft.

"We have a couple guys coming off major injuries and we would like our team to be as complete as possible when we go out on the field that's why mini-camp is a little bit later," Smith said.

Rex Grossman, Adewale Ogunleye, Bryan Johnson and Mike Brown are among those expected to be healthy enough to participate.

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