The NFL draft starts on Thursday night (April 22) this year, at least for teams with a first-round pick. But the Bears won't make a selection until late Friday night when they have the 12th pick in the third round, 76th overall.
Local draft fans would love the Bears to trade up and get in the game a little earlier, but that's unlikely.
"I just don't feel we have enough (trade ammunition) to be able to do that," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "Those top 40 picks are really coveted by most teams. It's very difficult to get teams to move out of those positions so, in all likelihood, that's not going to happen. We really don't have enough to offer teams, and once teams get fixed on filling their needs and on players (they like) it's very tough to have them move. I've been in their shoes, and I wouldn't do it."
But Lovie Smith says that's not a concern.
"It's a great thing," Smith said. "This is the staff that I wanted. I looked at lot of people, the more the better. We're trying to bring expertise. We're bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group. It's my responsibility to get the best possible guys, period.
"If I had another position (open) and there was another former (head) coach out there that fit that criteria, I would jump on him, too."
General manager Jerry Angelo said the still-rehabbing Urlacher, who hasn't been selected for the Pro Bowl since the 2006 season, still can return to that elite level.
"He's in good health," Angelo said. "He was in real good health last year going into the season. He had a real good off-season. But he had a freak injury unfortunately that shut his season down. We're very optimistic getting him back that he's going to be a very good player for us."
His 2010 base salary is $2.95 million, but the Bears have already paid him $12 million in bonus money, so they've borne the brunt of the financial commitment.
"He's on the roster," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "We paid him his money, so it doesn't behoove us to let him go (now). We're going to take him to training camp. He didn't get a lot of playing time last year, as we all know. When he did play he looked OK to me. We like him. No reason to do anything with him. If something happens in free agency, us wanting to do something, then we'd probably have to reassess our roster. But right now it's business as usual."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he needed help choosing a bottle of wine to bring to defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch's house at the opening of free agency.
"My knowledge of wine begins and ends with Boone's Farm," Schwartz said. "But I know some people that know a lot about wine, and I brought a bottle that was going to get his wife's attention."
For the record, it was a 2005 Opus One Cabernet.
"If you want to make a statement, if you want to let people know how important they are, you don't go in half-(way)," Schwartz said. "You go in with some guns blazing."
Schwartz didn't only bring the wine for Vanden Bosch's wife, Lindsey. He brought three stuffed-animal lions for their kids — daughter Payten, almost 5, and twin sons Bastian and Case, almost 3. He brought T-shirts, too.
Schwartz said he was inspired by the aggressiveness and guts Jets coach Rex Ryan displayed last year, when he showed up at linebacker Bart Scott's house at the opening of free agency. Ryan had been Scott's defensive coordinator in Baltimore, as Schwartz was Vanden Bosch's defensive coordinator in Tennessee.
"I think it only works if you have a relationship with the player," Schwartz said. "If I had never met Kyle before, it would have been very awkward. You would have shown up, we would have spent 10 minutes and then you would have been gone. ... If it's somebody else, maybe they're pretending they're not home, turning the lights out."
Burleson ran out to return a punt as the Lions' Calvin Johnson was getting up off the ground. "I was kind of like, ‘Hey, big man, you all right?' " said Burleson, who's 6-foot, while Johnson is 6-5. "And he stood up, and it just ... he kept ... he kept going. Before I knew it, I went from the ground to looking up. I went to the sideline. I was talking to Deion Branch. I was like, ‘Man, have you stood next to that guy? He's huge.' " The Seahawks smothered Johnson that day, limiting him to two catches for 27 yards, even though the Lions targeted him nine times. Burleson led the Seahawks with seven catches for 75 yards in their 32-20 victory, and Schwartz saw what offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had seen for a long time. "All of a sudden I knew what Scott was talking about," Schwartz said. "You watch the way he gets open on every single play — the suddenness that he plays with, his ability to play inside and outside, natural instincts for the game."
GREEN BAY PACKERS
It took a change of address for Aaron Kampman to finally acknowledge publicly that he wasn't happy with the Packers' decision to move him from defensive end to outside linebacker in their new 3-4 scheme last season.
Kampman's eight-year stint with Green Bay, highlighted by two Pro Bowl appearances, ended when he signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 7. Kampman, who was an unrestricted free agent, received a $10 million signing bonus.
He said the Packers also made him an offer, but staying put in an undesirable situation turned him off.
"I think, for me, the better fit was down here," Kampman said after signing with the Jaguars. "I think that the direction of that organization (the Packers) maybe didn't include me as much as it had in the past. So, I think it was the right time for me to make this transition."
Kampman will return to his natural position of defensive end with the Jaguars, who run the 4-3 scheme that was a longtime fixture in Green Bay until the overhaul in 2009.
Kampman never aired his displeasure with his role change last year, but it was evident by his uncommonly subdued exchanges with reporters that he felt out of place.
He opened up about the matter after leaving the Packers in his rearview mirror.
"I'll just say this, I like to go forward," Kampman said. "There are a lot of nuances at outside linebacker. I'm a guy who likes to work on his craft and hone it down to the minutest detail. I was doing seven-on-seven in practice rather than one-on-ones. Normally, when I break down film, I look at offensive tackles and I study them to the T, but (as a linebacker) I had to break down receivers and running backs. It was a more difficult transition in that sense."
They cut defensive end Michael Montgomery and safety Matt Giordano, both of whom rarely contributed as backups last season. Montgomery was a sixth-round draft pick by the Packers in 2005.
Green Bay signed receiver Charles Dillon, a street free agent. The 6-foot, 202-pound Dillon had a cup of coffee in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts in 2008 and had a dual role of receiver and kick returner with the Spokane team in arena football last year.
Jolly, a starter who is a restricted free agent, was arrested in July 2008 and charged with possession of at least 200 grams of codeine.
Training camp is slated to start in late July.
It is patterned after a uniform the Packers wore in their first decade of existence in the 1920s with a navy blue jersey and khaki pants.