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Bears sign Ware, waive Teggart

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 28, 2012 – 3:58 pm

The Bears on Saturday signed cornerback Jeremy Ware and waived kicker David Teggart.

Ware was selected by the Raiders in the seventh round of the 2010 draft out of Michigan State. Appearing in eight games as a rookie, the 5-10, 181-pounder recorded one tackle, one interception and three passes defensed. He was waived by Oakland last summer after training camp.

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Frey turning heads early in camp

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 28, 2012 – 2:20 pm

In Friday’s practice, rookie cornerback Isaiah Frey showed some of the skills that helped him lead the nation with 21 pass breakups last season as a senior at Nevada.

The sixth-round draft pick dove to the ground while reaching out with one hand to knock a Josh McCown pass away from receiver Devin Thomas.

“[Frey] is making progress every day and he’s an instinctive guy,” said defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. “He understands football. I’m excited where he’s at right now. He’s still a rookie—he’s got a ways to go—but he is showing progress.”

Hoke has been impressed with how Frey and fellow rookie defensive backs Brandon Hardin, a third-round safety, and Greg McCoy, a seventh-round cornerback, have grasped the playbook.

“When we talked about possible selections and evaluations [with general manager Phil Emery and the personnel department], they all came in as good guys and smart guys, and it shows in the classroom,” Hoke said. “They pick it up well. They understand concepts.

“Now how well they take the concepts from the classroom to the field, you have to see how quick they do that. They’ve been able to handle that, but that’s all part of it. I’m encouraged with them, and it’s kind of fun to have them in the meeting rooms with how well they’ve learned.”

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Moore excelling in new gunner role

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 28, 2012 – 1:57 pm

Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub has been impressed with how D.J. Moore has performed at one of the gunner positions on punt coverage in training camp.

“He is the quickest player we have, so we are thinking he will be able to get to the edge real quick and put the corner behind him so he has to chase,” Toub said.

Free-agent acquisition Devin Thomas and rookie cornerbacks Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy will also get practice reps at gunner. All are trying to fill the void created by the free agent departure of Corey Graham, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

“If you don’t have a big guy, they better be quick and be able to hit the edge like D.J. as opposed to a guy like Devin who can be more physical at the line,” Toub said. “Corey Graham didn’t have the greatest quickness or speed, but his effort was second to none. That’s what made him so good. We’re trying to find the next Corey Graham.”

Moore has excelled at nickel back the past two seasons, leading the Bears with four interceptions in 2011 and returning one for a touchdown for the second straight year.

“We really haven’t used him a lot on special teams,” Toub said. “He’s been such a specialist on defense playing nickel. This is really the first year we are going to hope to depend on him. We’ll see what happens.”

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Bears’ odd couple building on close bond

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 27, 2012 – 8:11 pm

When Jay Cutler throws a long pass to Brandon Marshall in practice, it’s usually the farthest the two are apart from each other all day.

The Bears quarterback and wide receiver, who formed a close bond as Denver Broncos teammates from 2006-08, have been inseparable at training camp. Their dorm rooms are right next to each other and they’ve been walking to and from the dining hall side-by-side on a regular basis.

“I’m just happy to be here with Jay,” said Marshall, a three-time Pro Bowler who was acquired by the Bears March 13 in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. “He’s a great leader and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“You can put a good quarterback and a good receiver together, but it’s not always going to mesh because sometimes you don’t see the field the same way or see things off the field the same way. But Jay and I, I don’t know why, we see things the same way.”

Cutler and Marshall developed into Pro Bowlers while playing their first three NFL seasons together in Denver. As Cutler’s primary target, Marshall caught 102 passes for a career-high 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns in 2007 and had a career-best 104 receptions for 1,265 yards and 6 TDs in 2008.

Marshall conceded that like any two people with strong personalities, he and Cutler don’t always see eye-to-eye. But that doesn’t affect their friendship.

“In any relationship where you take two people from two different places and you put them together, you butt heads because sometimes we try to impose our own wills on each other,” Marshall said.

“But once you understand that there’s no right or wrong, it’s just two different people, that’s when a relationship gets better, and with Jay and I, it’s always some work. We’re like the odd couple. We’re that couple where there’s fireworks, but then it gets a little fiery at times, too.”

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Hester OK after collision with Wright

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 27, 2012 – 7:13 pm

The Bears survived a scare in their second training camp practice Friday when receiver Devin Hester was knocked to the ground in a collision with safety Major Wright while both were trying to catch a pass down the seam.

Hester walked off the field gingerly, but returned moments later and finished the practice. He told reporters after the workout that it was “nothing major” and he would be fine.

Asked what had happened, Hester said: “I’ve got to go in and watch film, I really don’t know. We kind of collided, both of us going for the ball. It’s just something that happens.”

Although the Bears were practicing in shells and won’t conduct their first padded workout until Saturday night, Hester wasn’t surprised about what transpired when the ball was in the air.

“If you don’t expect accidents, then you shouldn’t play football,” Hester said. “It’s just the nature of the beast. There are going to be accidents, even if we’re playing touch.”

Hester returned on the first-team offense’s next series of plays and caught a pass from Jay Cutler.

“It was bothering me, but at the same time I wanted to see where I was at,” Hester said. “You can have a little nagging injury, but it won’t affect the way you play once the play is snapped. So I just wanted to see how I felt once the ball was snapped.”

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Bears have right environment for Price

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 27, 2012 – 7:00 pm

Coach Lovie Smith feels that the Bears’ family atmosphere provides the ideal environment for a player who needs a change of scenery and a chance to revitalize his NFL career.

Such is the case with Brian Price, a defensive tackle the Bears acquired Thursday from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for an undisclosed 2013 draft pick.

Price has struggled with the death of his 33-year-old sister, Bridget James, who was the victim of a hit-and-run automobile accident in May in Los Angeles. The 6-1, 303-pounder was reportedly hospitalized due to exhaustion in the wake of the tragedy.

“I think we have a great locker room for any player coming in,” Smith said. “If you want to be successful, you want a second chance to make things right or just a new start, it’s a great place for it. Our guys are going to meet him, be there for him as a teammate and let him know how we do things. But we’re bringing him in here to help us win football games and hopefully that’s what he’s coming in to do.”

Price was selected by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the 35th overall pick. After appearing in five games as a reserve as a rookie, he started 14 of 15 games played in 2011, registering 24 tackles and three sacks.

“From him coming out of college, I had a chance to look at him a lot,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “You follow the guys in the league and he’s a physical guy. He fits like our guys; athletic, the movement, he’s got good power. So we’re anxious to get him here.”

Price passed his physical with the Bears Friday. But in accordance with the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, he will not be permitted to practice until at least Wednesday at the earliest.

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Bush sees himself as complete back

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 27, 2012 – 1:42 pm

Bruising running back Michael Bush is known for his ability to gain tough yards in goal-line and short-yardage situations. But the 6-1, 245-pounder prefers to be viewed as an all-around back.

“No one likes to be a battering ram. It just happens that way,” Bush said with a smile. “That’s the role that I’ve been stuck with because of my size. But if it’s what I’ve got to do, it’s what I’ve got to do.”

Last season with the Oakland Raiders, Bush tied for 13th in the NFL with a 75 percent success rate on third-and-one, picking up first downs on 12 of 16 opportunities.

The Bears signed Bush to a four-year contract in March to back up and complement starter Matt Forte. Bush spent his first five NFL seasons with the Raiders, rushing for 2,642 yards and 21 touchdowns on 256 carries while playing in 61 games with 19 starts. He has also caught 91 passes for 879 yards and 1 TD.

The Louisville product had his most productive season in 2011, setting career highs in attempts (256), yards (977), touchdowns (7), receptions (37), receiving yards (418) and starts (9).

Bush joined the Raiders in 2007 as a fourth-round draft pick, but missed his entire rookie season while recovering from a broken leg he suffered in Louisville’s 2006 opener. Since debuting in 2008, he has increased his rushing yardage each year from 421 to 589 to 655 to 977.

Asked about his comfort level in the Bears offense, Bush said: “I’m getting there. I took a break [between minicamp and training camp]. So now you’ve got to come back and learn everything and the footwork and stuff like that. I’ll be fine when it’s time to roll.”

Bush sees himself as complete back

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Forte shows burst in first practice

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2012 – 8:23 pm

In the Bears’ first training camp practice Thursday, Matt Forte didn’t look like someone who had suffered a season-ending knee injury last year or skipped the offseason program during a contract impasse.

The Pro Bowl running back resembled the same player who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last December when he got hurt in a loss to the Chiefs. On one running play Thursday, Forte displayed his patented explosiveness and quickness, bolting through a hole and racing to the end zone.

“The one he hit today was pretty clean, and he took it a long, long way,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “It shows you what we can do. When you have a back that can take it to the house from anywhere on the field, it certainly changes what the defense can do to you.”

Forte was happy to be back on the practice field with his teammates.

“It felt like normal,” he said. “I missed OTAs and all that stuff, but it felt good to get back out there and be able to do football. You can only work out so much. It felt good to be back out there with everybody.”

During special teams drills Thursday, Forte spent time with quarterback Jay Cutler and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates working on pass-protection responsibilities in Tice’s offense.

“I’m just getting it under my belt,” Forte said. “It’s coming to me very naturally. The running game is basically the same as what we did last year. I just have to get the protections down … and know who I’ve got to get and how to get them. It’s been fun. It was a fun practice today. Hopefully the rest of camp is like that too.”

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Tice not happy with offense’s execution

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2012 – 7:53 pm

Quarterback Jay Cutler looked sharp in 7-on-7 drills in the Bears’ first training camp practice Thursday, completing 11 of 12 passes to six different receivers.

But first-year coordinator Mike Tice wasn’t pleased with how the offense performed overall after witnessing two fumbles, a false start and two botched exchanges between the center and quarterback.

“Can’t put the ball on the ground. Cannot put the ball on the ground. And can’t jump offside,” Tice told reporters. “I know it’s the first day and we’re working a lot of things on the line of scrimmage, but we’re also coming off an offseason of a bunch of practices and a bunch of times that we did it and we did it right. We can’t come out the first day and look like we never did it before.

“We’re not going to put up with that. We’re going to have a higher bar than that. We’re going to set the ceiling a lot higher than that. So we’ve got to get that cleaned up right away. We’ve got to stay up when we’re downfield running routes. We’ve got to do things a little bit better at times. But I thought the energy was good and the focus was great.”

In 7-on-7 drills, Cutler completed three passes apiece to receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Kellen Davis, two to receiver Devin Hester and one each to receiver Earl Bennett and running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The defense, however, outplayed the offense in 11-on-11 team work.

“I think they had a better 7-on-7 than they did team,” Tice said. “I think everybody got excited in team trying to make an impression. I thought we were a little bit off in team. But it’s the first day. I know the guys after being around them for several months. They all want to do well.”

Tice singled out Hester for doing “some nice things” in the practice. Running back Kahlil Bell and rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery both fumbled. J’Marcus Webb opened practice with the starting unit at left tackle, but shared first-team reps with Chris Williams.

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Williams thrilled to be back on field

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2012 – 2:04 pm

Back at his original position, Chris Williams is looking forward to competing with J’Marcus Webb for the Bears’ starting left tackle job. But after missing the final seven games last season with a wrist injury, Williams likely would be just as enthusiastic if given a chance to play wide receiver.

“I am just excited to get back on the field,” said the 2008 first-round draft pick from Vanderbilt. “I got hurt about Week 9 last year, so I am just excited to actually play ball again.”

Williams joined the Bears as a left tackle, but was moved to right tackle in 2009 after the team signed free agent Orlando Pace. Williams returned to left tackle late that season before being switched to left guard in 2010. He then started the first nine games at left guard in 2011 before getting hurt.

Although Williams will be battling for a starting job this summer, his mindset will remain the same.

“I am just here to work,” Williams said. “I come in every day and work hard. The competition will take care of itself. I’m not really changing my approach to training camp at all.”

If Williams doesn’t win the competition, he could serve as the third swing tackle or end up at another position.

“Chris has been a good football player,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s been that way since he’s been here. Injuries have slowed him down. But what we’ve seen from him is a big, athletic guy that can play a lot of positions.

“It’s our job to get him in the right position. Exactly where he ends up, that’s what you come to camp for. We have options with Chris. We can make a case that he can play just about every position on the offensive line.”

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