Chicago Bears: 2011 NFL draft

Eight games provide a large enough sample size for even optimists to paint somewhat of a bleak picture of the Chicago Bears going into the bye week.

Still, Bears coach Marc Trestman draws on experience in expressing a belief the 3-5 Bears will “find themselves.”

“These are things that are correctable,” he added. “Our ability to create some turnovers will help us. Our ability to match up better will help us. Our ability to spend some time this week, and I’ve seen this happen over time after a bye week, where teams can find themselves.”

Asked what evidence he sees to make him think the Bears can turn around their season, starting with the club’s Nov. 9 matchup at Green Bay, Trestman said, “It shows up that we can get it done.”

Regardless of what that means, the Bears need to spend the week off fixing myriad problems in every facet of the game. Offensively, Trestman needs to freshen up the attack to feature more diversity, and the team needs to strike a better balance between running and passing. Defensively, the Bears need to sift through the injuries and come up with a suitable lineup. The defense appears to be struggling down the middle, which in turn leads to problems in the secondary.

On special teams, the Bears feature an athletic lineup of speedy, yet inexperienced, mistake-prone players.

“Last year we were 25th or something in third downs going into the bye week. We came out of it and moved up significantly because we had time to look back, make corrections, as coaches do,” Trestman said. “I feel confident we’re going to find our way through this and get back in a position where we are playing more consistently, to where we are playing the kind of game we played against Atlanta that we played against San Francisco. The team has that in them. We’ve just got to put it all together."

Healthy Floyd gearing up for combine

February, 1, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is eager to impress scouts and NFL executives after a rib injury forced him to miss last month's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
Matt Cashore/US PresswireMichael Floyd was a big-play threat at the college level. Could he replicate that success with the Bears?

According to Floyd, the injury is now completely healed. With that, the wideout traveled to Indianapolis this week to participate in the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. He plans to return later in the month to participate in the annual NFL scouting combine.

"I think I'll perform in most of the drills [at the combine]," Floyd said Wednesday during a stop at Super Bowl XLVI radio row. "It was kind of difficult for me not going down there to the Senior Bowl because I really wanted to. But because of the injury I had in my bowl game, which is one-hundred percent now, I wasn't able to do that. I wanted to rest it and make sure I was one-hundred percent. It all feels good now."

Generally considered the second-rated receiver in the 2012 NFL draft class, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper had the Chicago Bears selecting Floyd at No. 19 overall in his initial mock draft.

"It's a great feeling just knowing that all the fans you have in Chicago, of course Notre Dame is so close and has so many fans in Chicago, it's a great feeling," Floyd said. "But you never know with mock drafts. I'm looking forward to this upcoming month and just showing everybody my talent and what I have to bring to an NFL team.'

"Jay Cutler is a great quarterback. He knows everything, and what I like the most, he's a leader on that team. He knows where to get the ball at times. He's a good judgment guy. I really like him for that."

The 6-foot-3, 224-pound receiver compiled more than 1,000 receiver yards in each of his final two seasons for the Fighting Irish. Floyd posted a career-best 100 receptions and 1,147 receiving yards last season. He finished a productive four-year run in South Bend with a school-record 37 touchdown receptions.

Floyd's on-field ability was never in doubt in South Bend. His off-field behavior has, however, raised concern. He was twice cited for drinking underage and was arrested in the sping of 2011 for drunken driving. He was suspended by Irish head coach Brian Kelly for the latter infraction.

Floyd said Wednesday he is prepared to field tough questions from NFL teams at the combine, and is taking the necessary steps to insure he erases all doubt when it comes to integrity and character issues.

"You got to keep your composure and stay positive [in those interviews]," Floyd said. "We have a guy coming out to our facility where we train at in California. He's a great psychologist to help us and tell us the negatives and positives of this whole thing. He tells us it's one of the biggest job interviews of your life. He tells us to stay positive and make sure you're up and ready for whatever the questions may be."

Ex-Bear Kreutz 'close' to retiring

July, 31, 2011
After 13 years in the NFL, Olin Kreutz says he is leaning toward retiring from football after negotiations with the Chicago Bears fell through this weekend in sudden and dramatic fashion.

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As Gabe Carimi was watching highlights of sacks from the 2010 NFL season, he noticed one team appearing more than others. And for the wrong reasons.

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Bears' pick Paea hopes to unite family

June, 17, 2011
Stephen PaeaCourtesy of Paea familyThe Paea family from left to right: William, Pora, 'Ilaisaane, Stephen and Peniamina.
Likely borne from centuries of boredom living in sheer beauty, for little girls on the Tongan islands the art of juggling comes as naturally there as Barbie dolls, jacks and hopscotch for young girls in America.

Having grown up on Vava'u, Tonga, Chicago Bears rookie defensive tackle Stephen Paea heard the word for the first time recently.

"I'm sorry, I don't know the word: juggle," Paea said.

Read the entire story.

Another in a periodic series examining the roles of NFC North newcomers.

Unless you follow the Pac-10, your first introduction to Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea might have come at the February scouting combine. Still recovering from minor knee surgery, Paea set a combine record by completing 49 reps of a 225-pound bench press.

Combine that accomplishment with a 6-foot-1, 303-pound frame and a natural perception emerges: A space-eating nose tackle who projects as a two-down player in the NFL.

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Bears draft Nathan Enderle, J.T. Thomas

April, 30, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears achieved their goal of bringing in a developmental quarterback by selecting Idaho's Nathan Enderle in the fifth round (No. 160 overall) on the draft's third day, before wrapping up the 2011 class with depth at linebacker in West Virginia product J.T. Thomas, a sixth-round pick.

"We worked with the coaches on this, we worked him out personally, and feel good about the selection," Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell said. "He's a big guy. He's got a very strong arm. He's a very intelligent man and intelligent quarterback. I saw him two years when I was in Seattle and saw him play against Jake [Locker] in Washington and he really went toe to toe with him."

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Report: Apology not enough for Ravens

April, 30, 2011
The NFL's version of resolution regarding the trade fiasco between the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday apparently doesn't sit well with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

Bisciotti said the profuse apologies offered by Bears general manager Jerry Angelo weren't enough, and expressed disappointment in the McCaskey family, saying the situation tarnishes the family's legacy, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"I'm disappointed in the Bears and the McCaskeys," Bisciotti told the newspaper. "It is my opinion a deviation from their great legacy. They concluded that their heartfelt and admirable apology was sufficient for our loss. All of us at the Ravens strongly disagree. Probably end of story."

Read the entire story.

Paea's bench press an eye-opener

April, 30, 2011
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Being able to pull off amazing feats of strength and athleticism doesn’t necessarily mean a player will have a productive NFL career.

After all, former Chicago Bears 2009 third-round pick Jarron Gilbert was once an internet sensation for jumping out of a pool.

But it should be mentioned that 2011 second-round draft choice Stephen Paea set the all-time record on the bench press during the NFL Combine, when the defensive tackle completed an astounding 49 reps at 225 pounds.

"I feel like the bench press was something that was in my back pocket," Paea said Saturday during a visit to Halas Hall. "When I watched the replay after, all the media guys were saying I was going to be a true nose tackle. But in my mind, strength is my Plan B. As far as quickness, that's what I feel I can bring to the game.

Ironically, Paea was only able to participate in the bench press at the combine because of an offseason knee scope.

"I only had a month of training because I came back from that knee surgery," Paea said. "I only had that one event with the bench so I might as well put 100 percent into it."

Carimi has a contingency plan

April, 30, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Normally, the Chicago Bears hold a rookie mini-camp for all drafted players, undrafted rookie free agents and tryout players the weekend following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

But with the ever-changing NFL labor situation, there is no guarantee the lockout will be lifted again in time for the first year players to report to Halas Hall in the near future.

First-round pick Gabe Carimi arrived with his family at the Bears facility Saturday morning, while second and third round choices Stephen Paea and Chris Conte are expected to show up in Lake Forest around 4 pm. After that, however, it's anybody's guess as to when the organization will be able to reconnect with its newest acquisitions.

"I'm ready as soon as this lockout is over," Carmi said. "I can't wait to come and start playing. I'm sure everybody else feels that way too."

Bears players under contract or tendered were able to use the Halas Hall workout facilities on Friday, but the weight room and the Walter Payton Center are once again off-limits because the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis granted the NFL's request for a temporary stay of Judge Susan Nelson's injunction order. The appeals court is expected to rule next week on the NFL's request for a more permanent stay that would last through its appeal of the injunction, a process expected to take 6-8 weeks.

Carimi already has a plan in place if the NFL is granted a more permanent stay and the lockout continues to be in effect during the appeals process.

"I plan on going back to Madison, Wis. and training with my other offensive lineman that I have been training with for the last three weeks leading up to the draft," Carimi said. "I'll continue to work on my positions skills and strength gains."

Day 3 preview: Linebacker help?

April, 29, 2011
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- After using the first three picks to address offensive tackle, defensive tackle and safety, the Chicago Bears head into the final day of the NFL draft with only two remaining selections (Nos. 160 and 195).

They could still attempt to fill a few needs on defense by grabbing either a linebacker, cornerback or defensive end. With only two linebackers under contract (Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs), it would seem the position is a priority, although Bears general manager Jerry Angelo feels the organization can look outside the draft for linebacker help if necessary.

"I like the prospects of what potential free agency can bring," Angelo said. "In free agency you are able to find linebackers. We have. Are there some kids we are going to look at [Saturday]? Absolutely. The nice thing about our scheme now is the kids we look at probably aren't on half the boards in the league because of the 3-4 scheme. We are totally the antithesis when it comes to linebackers for 3-4 teams."

Only 10 linebackers were selected through the first three rounds.

On offense, the Bears could explore the idea of adding a wide receiver, fullback, developmental quarterback or an additional offensive lineman. During the last rounds of any draft, teams rarely draft for need, and usually stick to taking the best available player left on the board.

Of course, having already attempted to make two trades -- only one was successful -- Angelo might still try to deal one of the two picks to perhaps acquire a couple extra choices in the late rounds. But he made it sound like that possibility is remote given the shortage of picks at his disposal.

"I wish I found a bottle on a beach," Angelo laughed.

Source: Bears won't compensate Ravens

April, 29, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears have declined to compensate the Baltimore Ravens for the botched first-round trade the two teams agreed to but that the Bears did not turn into the NFL, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged the Bears to surrender some type of draft compensation but when he declined to order them to do so, Chicago opted not to give the Ravens anything.

"The only thing I'm gonna say [is] they have rules when you do something wrong, not when you make mistakes," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Friday. "A mistake was made, no rule was broken."

Read the entire story.

Bears draft DT Paea with 53rd pick

April, 29, 2011
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears traded up in the second round to select Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea with the 53rd pick of the NFL draft on Friday.

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In a feature on his team’s official website, Baltimore Ravens senior vice president Kevin Byrne provided an interesting glimpse inside what transpired Thursday night during the chaotic moments of a botched trade involving the Chicago Bears.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Smith
John Rieger/US PresswireThe Ravens say they are comfortable with their selection of cornerback Jimmy Smith.
The trade, which is being investigated by the NFL, involved the Bears offering their fourth-round pick to Baltimore in exchange for moving up from 29th to take the No. 26 spot occupied by the Ravens. In the aftermath, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo apologized profusely for an internal communications breakdown that led to the team not contacting the NFL in time to officially consummate the trade.

Here’s a breakdown of Byrne’s account:

Approximately a minute after the teams agreed to the trade -- with about two minutes remaining of Baltimore’s allotted time to make the selection -- Byrne said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who was essentially on two phone calls at the same time, told NFL senior director of player personnel Joel Bussert: “Joel, I’ve got them on the other phone. They’ve agreed.”

On the other phone, with Newsome on a call to the Bears, the general manager told the team, “Joel said you guys haven’t confirmed the trade.”

Turning to the other phone with Bussert on the end, Newsome then said, “Joel, they said they called. I don’t know,” before telling immediately going back to the other phone to tell the Bears, “Joel says you haven’t called, what’s going on?”

Byrne wrote that Newsome then relayed to Bussert that the Bears insisted they’d already made the call to the league which would have officially consummated the trade.

Eventually, time ran out and the Chiefs passed the 26th pick to Kansas City, who drafted receiver Jonathan Baldwin. Baltimore came back and selected Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith at 27.

After the Ravens made the pick, Byrne said he informed Newsome that the media would likely accuse the Ravens of making a mistake that led to the clock expiring and the team passing the pick.

“Oz, the Bears messed up,” Byrne said he told Newsome. “We shouldn’t have to take the hit for this.”

Newsome replied he was “not going to throw the Bears under the bus.”

But Byrne responded, “Well, how about at least explaining that we had a deal with [the Bears] and that they did not follow through with a confirmation at the last second?”

Newsome agreed to explain the situation to the media.

Meanwhile, at Halas Hall, Angelo was also under pressure to give an explanation about what had just transpired.

“Whatever you hear, Baltimore did everything the right way,” he said. “We didn’t take advantage of the time that we had to do it according to protocol. I did call Baltimore and apologize for that. I want to go on the record to say that.”

Angelo refused to get into specifics about the situation, only offering profuse apology and vague details.
What’s clear though is somewhere during that chaotic episode, the Bears failed to properly execute, which would seem inexcusable given that Angelo has been involved in the player personnel business for more than 30 years.

Baltimore still wants fourth-round compensation (which is what the team’s originally agreed to) for the botched transaction, but it’s unlikely the league will grant that. At the end of the day both teams acquired the players they coveted, making this a no-blood-no-foul situation. But I thought Byrne’s account was interesting, and wanted to share it.

If anything, the situation would make for an interesting ice breaker should the teams try again to strike another deal at some point in this draft.

Tice expects Carimi to stay at tackle

April, 29, 2011
[+] EnlargeGabe Carimi
Patrick Green/Icon SMIFirst-round pick Gabe Carimi will likely remain at tackle with the Bears.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith left open the possibility first-round pick Gabe Carimi could perhaps slide inside and line up at guard, but offensive line coach Mike Tice said Friday he expects the No. 29 overall selection to remain at tackle.

"I think he's an outside player, personally," Tice said.

Carimi, a star left tackle for the University of Wisconsin, started 49 games for the Badgers and graded out at 90 or better in 11 of his last 22 contests.

Tice, however, declined to say whether or not Carimi will play on the right or left side of the offensive line.

"We do want to keep our options open, [and] I have been known to move guys around a little bit," Tice said at Halas Hall. "We want to get through the rest of the draft and figure out what's going on with some of our players that are free agents, [and] get to that part of the offseason also. We'll make sure that the day he walks into the building we'll put him in a spot that will be the spot he plays at for many years to come. So we'll work our way through that."

Tice already had a relationship with his new pupil because Tice's son, Nate, was teammates with Carimi at the University of Wisconsin.

"I know a lot about him, in fact, his mom and my wife tailgate together," Tice said. "They talked last night, I believe, so there is a lot of familiarity. Good kid, great program, very good family, really close family. He's from the Madison [Wis.] area so we have to convert that family over to "Bearism" and knock off that cheesehead stuff."