Jones, who rushed for 1,133 yards as a rookie in 2004, is still rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered on Dec. 23, but he worked out for four NFL teams late last month and appeared to be ahead of schedule. It remains questionable, though, whether he will be able to play by the season opener on Sept. 7.
Jones was signed after working out at Halas Hall Tuesday and taking a physical. Forte is still expected to get most of the first-team practice reps when Bears training camp practices begin July 23, but the team appears to have wavered from its position on the final day of organized team activities on June 18.
"I am comfortable with the running back position, with Forte," Smith said then. "We don't have any plans to bring anyone else in. We like the running backs that we have right now. From Matt to Adrian Peterson to Garrett Wolfe, to P.J. Pope, Matt Lawrence, we like all of our players, and those are the ones that we're going with."
Jones was the Lions' first-round pick in 2004 (30th overall), and he averaged 4.7 yards per carry as a rookie. The following season, Jones missed games with shoulder and elbow injuries and slumped to 664 rushing yards and a 3.6-yard average. In 2006, Jones caught a career-best 61 passes for 520 yards but suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot and spent the final three games on injured reserve.
Last season, the 6-foot, 228-pound Jones rushed for 581 yards, averaging 3.8 yards per carry before his knee injury. He was released by the Lions March 13 with a year left on his contract.
CAMP CALENDAR: Players report to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais on July 22, and the first practice is at 3 p.m. on July 23. Camp concludes with a 3 p.m. practice on Aug. 14.
Dvoracek is healthy again, but he will have to earn the starting job again. Veteran Anthony Adams stepped up last season, his first with the Bears, and picked up the slack left by Dvoracek's injury and the pathetic performance of Darwin Walker, who was supposed to be much more of an impact player than Adams but was hardly a factor. Rookie Marcus Harrison and versatile veteran Israel Idonije also figure in the Bears' DT rotation.
"Dusty came out and did a good job for us in last year's season opener," defensive line coach Brick Haley said. "You could see that Dusty's got talent and ability to do some of the things that we want to get done. Anthony also has done a great job. We're pleased with the performance that he gave us last year and the work that he put in. Israel got more snaps at that (tackle) position during the offseason, so we're excited about that."
But it was 10th-year veteran Desmond Clark who was the Bears' leading receiver among tight ends, with 44 catches for 545 yards.
"Desmond has been an integral part of our offense the last three years," tight ends coach Rob Boras said. "Desmond is our starting tight end. He makes plays when he's called upon. He's very steady in the run game, which often goes unnoticed. You look at his average yards per catch the last couple years, and he's had one of the highest in the league for tight ends, so obviously he's making plays down the field."
Clark averaged 12.4 yards per catch last season to Olsen's 10.0.
Lloyd has reached a crossroads in his NFL career, and the Bears are hoping the talent that he displayed in offseason practices carries over onto the field when the lights and the pads are on.
"His desire right now is high, and we need for it to stay that way," wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said. "He has shown a lot of ability in practice and that needs to carry over into a game. We just need to continue to keep him going and see what happens when the pads come on. We're just going to keep pushing him, keep his desire to be good there, and I'm looking forward to him being able to help us."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel like the reason why I have this contract is because I've already displayed that I can carry this role. It's nothing that I have to become; I'm already there." — DT Tommie Harris when asked if he felt added pressure after signing his four-year, $40 million contract extension.
That question might be answered Oct. 5 and Nov. 2., when the Lions play Jones' new team, Chicago.
One fact in the Lions' favor: Jones signed a one-year deal with the Bears for $605,000 — far less than the $2.35 million he would have made with the Lions had they not cut him in March.
Jones is coming off his second major injury in two years. He suffered a torn ACL late last season, after suffering a serious foot injury late in the previous season. He drew some interest around the NFL, but teams weren't lining up to give him a big contract.
But no matter what the numbers are, it's going to hurt if Jones comes back and punishes the Lions in the uniform of a division rival. Players the Lions have let go have a tendency to have big games against their former team.
Take quarterback Joey Harrington. In 2006, he threw for three touchdowns and posted a 107.4 passer rating as Miami embarrassed the Lions, 27-10. On Thanksgiving Day, no less. That was his best rating of the season by a wide margin.
Take running back Artose Pinner. Not long after Harrington's performance, Pinner ran for 125 yards and three TDs as Minnesota beat the Lions, 30-20. He ran for 65 yards and zero TDs in the Vikings' other 15 games combined.
You know Jones would love to do something similar.
"I was upset just because I thought I knew them better than that," Jones said about his release in May. "I thought Rod (Marinelli) and (Matt) Millen and things like that would give me a chance to come back. Just letting me go when I was hurt kind of pissed me off. But I don't have any animosity. I'll see them again someday on the field or something. I'll take it out then."
CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 23. First practices are July 24.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As much as I can say that don't make a difference, you know as a kid you always grow up watching the team. The biggest games I remember were the Thanksgiving Day games. To get a chance to come home and play for this organization and get a chance to play on Thanksgiving, I mean, I couldn't ask for nothing more." — S Dwight Smith, telling the Detroit Free Press about playing for his hometown team.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The veteran quarterback's agent, Bus Cook, told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that petitioning the league for Favre to be reinstated from the reserve-retired list isn't imminent.
"We're going to let Green Bay decide what they want to do. It's their move," Cook said.
The Favre camp put the proverbial football back in the Packers' hands after general manager Ted Thompson rejected his request to be released and then suggested that Favre would be welcomed back to the team but only as a backup to anointed starter Aaron Rodgers.
"Right now we have until the sixth week (of the regular season to apply for reinstatement) and Brett has made it pretty clear that he is not willing to come in as a backup," Cook said.
Favre's return to the Packers for a 17th season seems to be remote at best, given the plethora of post-Fourth of July fireworks emanating between the two sides.
The friction came to a head when Favre spoke publicly for the first time since it was revealed earlier in the month that he had a desire to play again after he retired in March.
Favre had a lengthy interview July 14 with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel, which aired different segments of the conversation in Mississippi three straight nights.
Favre admitted that he was "guilty" of retiring early because he wasn't 100 percent committed to continue playing shortly after last season ended. Yet, he was blunt in his criticisms of the Packers, particularly Thompson, for how they treated him and demanded a decision on his playing future sooner rather than later. Favre made mention of "half truths" spoken by Packers officials and revealed a lack of trust he has in Thompson for his role in not landing free-agent receiver Randy Moss in the 2007 offseason, among other decisions he made that countered suggestions made by Favre for the benefit of the team.
The Packers were open to having Favre back after he had second thoughts about retiring shortly after his tearful press conference in Green Bay, but Favre decided to stay retired and the organization moved on without him.
After preparing Rodgers the entire offseason for the starting job, the Packers stayed firm with their plans of moving forward even when Favre contacted head coach Mike McCarthy on June 20 and expressed that he was thinking about making a comeback.
Less than a month later, the league's oldest franchise and its most celebrated player were at loggerheads. The Packers wouldn't budge on their commitment to Rodgers as the starter, and Favre wasn't accepting of a backup role after starting a league-record 275 straight games.
"Why?" Favre said sternly to Van Susteren in the interview.
"They've been preaching about, ‘We want to protect Brett's legacy,'" he added in some of his most scathing comments toward team management. "How does that protect my legacy if I'm a backup? ‘Brett, we'll welcome you back, we'll pay you $12 million (his salary this year), but you have to hold a clipboard and (wear a) ball cap.' That's probably better for them as opposed to letting me go somewhere and me coming back (and beating the Packers), then their legacy, the management, could be in jeopardy. Let me worry about that. You don't worry about my legacy. It's a bunch of bull; it's all it is."
Adding fuel to the firestorm was Favre's detailing in the interview the involvement of Packers offensive line coach James Campen, a former teammate of Favre and a close friend, as a go-between. Favre said Campen had to skip a family vacation in Hawaii a few weeks earlier to make an unannounced visit on the team's behalf to Favre's home near Hattiesburg, Miss.
"He says, ‘You know, I know they told you they're moving on and playing there is not an option. Playing here in Green Bay is not an option, which that's what they want. They want to move on. But I'm telling you, if you reinstate or you force their hand, back them in a corner, they feel like they have no other option, they're going to accept you back.' And he said, ‘Just telling you.' And I said, ‘OK.'"
McCarthy told The Associated Press on July 12 that the club wanted Campen to visit Favre as a friend, not on behalf of the team. McCarthy accused Favre and his representatives for turning Campen into an "intermediary" and putting the assistant coach "in a tough spot."
With a release out of the question, Favre's only hope to get out of Green Bay — if that's what he truly desires if he intends to play this season — is to be traded. Nothing can transpire, however, until Favre is cleared from the reserve-retired list.
Favre indicated in the interview with Van Susteren that he's not apt to report for the start of Packers training camp July 27 to force the team's hand.
"It's tempting because everyone's saying call their bluff or whatever," Favre said. "I think (camp) is going to be a circus in itself already, whether I go there or whatever.
"I don't want to make it any worse than it is. I've always been a Packer, always will be a Packer. Will I play somewhere else? Remains to be seen. But I don't want to go back there just to stick it to ‘em."
CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 27. Camp opens July 28 with the first of five scheduled two-a-days — all in the first 12 days. An intrasquad scrimmage will be held at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, Aug. 3.
FoxSports.com reported July 16 that Packers management alleges "inappropriate dialogue" took place between Favre and Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Although Favre is on the league's reserve-retired list, he is under contract with the Packers for three more years. Favre said in a July 14 interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel that he is prepared to come out of retirement, but he has yet to formally file a letter with the league office requesting reinstatement.
Favre previously sent a letter to the Packers asking for his unconditional release, after general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy made it clear that the team was moving on with Aaron Rodgers as its starting quarterback. Green Bay denied the request, thus scuttling a possibility of Favre's reuniting with former Packers quarterbacks coach Bevell in Minnesota.
The Vikings denied any wrongdoing after the tampering charges were lodged.
Head coach Brad Childress reserved comment when the topic of Favre was broached on a TV show in the Twin Cities.
When asked would the Vikings be interested in Favre if he's available, Childress responded: "I really can't answer it. But, it's an interesting soap opera to watch from the hinterland up here and watch it transpire down south."
Rodgers, meanwhile, has been trying to lie low the last few weeks amid all the talk of a Favre comeback and mounting standoff between the three-time MVP and the Packers.
"It really doesn't concern me that much," said Rodgers, interviewed by ESPN on July 16 in Los Angeles for the taping of the ESPY Awards. "I'm affected by it, but it's really between Brett and the organization. I've had a great experience with the Packers for three years, a great experience learning from Brett. When a decision finally comes, then we'll just go from there."
Rodgers planned to arrive in Green Bay a week before training camp commences July 28 to get a few workouts in.
Favre is a presenter for friend and former center Frank Winters. Onetime defensive tackle Gilbert Brown and longtime video director Al Treml are the other inductees.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo: "Years past, all of the quarterbacks that have come through and moved on ... if you get a guy playing at that level, it's hard to come by him. As long as you can have someone playing at that level, I would probably keep him around."
Pro golfer Joe Ogilvie: "It seems to be the no-brainer. If you're a general manager, you probably are going to get killed if Brett Favre goes to another team and plays well. If he goes and has success, I wouldn't want to be that general manager. I'd have to hire a lot of security."
Former Olympic wrestler Dennis Hall, a Wisconsin native: "If they don't bring him back, they better release him and let him join any team he wants. The guy's done more for the Packers organization than any clown in history. It drives me nuts. ... I just love his tenacity and his passion for the game. He ain't faking the passion and the fun. To me, that's what sports are about."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It'll all play itself out. There's no need to really get too gung-ho one way or the other. Things will happen the way they're going to happen, and we'll just deal with how things work out. But, as of this point, there's been a lot of talk and a lot of speculation, but there's been nothing concrete. Until you get to camp and actually see if Brett is at camp, then that's a whole another story. But, right now, it's kind of useless for us to even get involved in it." — Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher, in an interview July 16 at a pro-am golf event for the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, on the ongoing soap opera involving Brett Favre and whether he will come out of retirement and be welcomed back by an apparently indifferent Green Bay organization as its starting quarterback.