Lovie Smith Press Conference Opens Camp

Head coach Lovie Smith met with the media for about 15 minutes Wednesday afternoon upon his arrival in Bourbonnais. With his initial training camp practice set for Thursday at high noon, fans are filling the Chicago streets with Super Bowl buzz. Here is a synopsis of his press conference.

On the beginning of training camp:
"We have an opportunity to take another step with our football program during training camp. You have to start over each year, and of course this is kind of the official start to it as we see it. We have 22 starters returning, but we start from scratch. Everyone has to win a job. It should be a great training camp … Again, it's an exciting day when you see the players start coming around, all expecting for good things to happen this coming season."

On the practice format for the next three weeks:
"We have basically the same format we have used in previous years, or I should say last year. There won't be a lot of two-a-day practices, but going out there, we should get some good work. Everything we do right now is geared toward putting the best football team on the field against Green Bay September the 10th."

On what he expects to see from the offense:
"Offensively, (this is our) second year in the system. Just like our defense made a big step the second year, I'm expecting the same thing from our offense this coming season. We have the people to be able to do that … I like this system. I like our coaching staff. We have an excellent coaching staff. I like the players that we have. At every position we have a guy that we want to pay to see. And again, we made progress, some progress last year. But I think we're gonna take another big jump, and I can't wait for that."

On the offseason acquisitions and draft picks:
"We didn't make a lot of moves in the offseason, but we feel like we have two classes coming in. We didn't get a lot of production from our rookie class last year with injuries and different things. Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, Airese Currie, those players should be able to help us this coming season, along with what we think is a good rookie class. Ricky Manning, Dante Wesley, Brian Griese, all of those players added to the mix should make us a lot better team."

On the running back situation:
"Well we have a starting rotation. We have three running backs we feel real good about. We'll have those three guys out there rotating in some form … I'm not trying to run away from a question. Thomas Jones is a good football player. Cedric Benson also. And Adrian Peterson. But for training camp, we're not getting ready to play a game. We're geared toward being ready to play September 10th. We're going to let all three of those guys get the chance to prove what they can do. And at times, you'll see everybody out there getting a rep."

On whether he needs to keep all three running backs as opposed to trading one:
"Definitely so. We'd even take a fourth. You look at our history. You look at most teams. We're a running football team, and we need as many good running backs as we can get. And we like the three that we have, and I'm anxious to see all three of them play."

On the possibility of Thomas Jones being unhappy:
"Thomas has a contract just like I have a contract, Olin Kreutz, and everyone else. He's excited about being a part of the team. A lot of things happened in the past, but it's training camp now. It's all about the team. We'll have our team here getting ready."

On the team having legitimate Super Bowl aspirations:
"We want them to think that way. Again, you talk about three goals.That's one of them. To win the Super Bowl. To be world champs. Every team should think that way. We're definitely one of them. Those are words right now. Tomorrow we get a chance to put it into play and hopefully do something about it."

On the need for a secondary receiver to complement Muhsin Muhammad:
"Right now, you're talking about the position opposite Moose ... Bernard Berrian finished up real strong last year. He'll get some early reps. Mark Bradley, of course, will also get some reps. Justin Gage, Airese Currie, Rashied Davis, all of those guys will get a look. Receiver-wise, you're rolling in and out guys, and that's how it goes in training camp. We would like everybody to get a chance to catch some of Rex's (Grossman), the first quarterback's, balls and go from there."

On the particular position battle he is most looking forward to:
"The one position that I'm really excited about seeing, there should be good competition there, is the middle linebacker position."

Not to worry, Brian Urlacher fans. I think it's safe to say that #54's job is secure, but it is nice to see that Coach Smith worked on his sense of humor a little this offseason. He got a good laugh out of the press with that crack.


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