Standing Firm

Chicago - Negotiations with Cedric Benson are not progressing. Although there are no feelings of ill will, nearly two weeks after the team reported to training camp, each side is entrenched in their view.

"We understand their position and they understand ours," said GM Jerry Angelo.

The hang up appears to be what the Chargers gave Philip Rivers as the fourth overall pick in 2004. He received $40.5 million over six years from San Diego, including a $14.25 million signing bonus. Benson's camp wants a similar deal to what Rivers signed, while the Bears feel that was an exception to the rule because he was a quarterback.

The Miami Dolphins have been unable to ink a deal with Ronnie Brown, the second overall selection and the first running back off the board in April's draft. If something were to get done with Brown, it would likely speed up talks between the Bears and Benson's agent Eugene Parker.

Bright Lights Big City
Despite coming off a 5-11 campaign and a last place finish in the NFC North, more than 23,000 fans showed up for a Thursday evening practice at Soldier Field to see the new and improved Bears.

"We have the best fans in the world, to come out and see practice and stay the whole time is just amazing," said quarterback Rex Grossman. "We're playing in a great city in front of a bunch of great fans."

Grossman started off with a bang, his first pass in an eleven-on-eleven drill went for a 60-yard completion to Bernard Berrian, who beat Charles Tillman and Bobby Gray deep along the sideline.

"That's a play call we've been working on for a while and he made a perfect throw," Berrian said. "I probably got four feet in this time instead of three, you know like in Detroit (last year), but that's all right it's over with now."

The night ended on a sour note for Grossman, as he threw two interceptions. Safety Bobby Gray continued to work with the first team defense at strong safety and picked off Grossman. In his defense, the ball hit Dustin Lyman's hands before Gray caught the deflection. With just one career interception in three years, Gray will take a turnover any way he can get his hands on the ball.

"It really don't matter to me, a tip a pick it's all the same," Gray said. "I just want more, I just want to get in a game and just react and play and have fun."

Another attempt to connect with Lyman resulted in linebacker Lance Briggs stepping in front of a Grossman pass and running it back for a score.

Proper Introduction
The starters on defense and offense were announced to the crowd. The fans at Soldier Field quickly caught onto the act, calling the team's new offensive weapon by his nickname.

"The Moose call was great," Muhsin Muhammad said. "They're picking it up really quick and I got pretty pumped up about that."

On the Money
Special teams coach Dave Toub has high expectation for his placekicker. If Thursday's performance was a precursor he will be pleased. Doug Brien and Nick Novak each connected on all four of their kicks between 28-48 yards.

"If he can give us high 80s we'll be happy," Toub said.

That's a far cry from Paul Edinger's 62.5 percent (15 of 24) last season.

Excused Absence
Linebacker Joe Odom missed both sessions on Thursday because of personal reasons.

Injury Update
Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye returned to work after leaving practice on Tuesday and sitting out Wednesday. Offensive tackle Marc Colombo was not on the field Thursday and continues to be held out because of an undisclosed infection.

Roster Move
The Bears waived receiver Kareem Kelly, who has been out with a hamstring injury. The Bears signed Derek Lee, a wideout that has spent time with the Georgia Force of the Arena league. Former Bear Doug Plank is the head coach of the Force.


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