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Source: Bears to talk to Armstrong

12/31/2012
Keith Armstong and Phil Emery have ties from a previous stints with the Bears and Falcons. Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In the aftermath of the firing Monday of Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, the club has already set up an interview with Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, according to an NFL source.

The timeline for the expected interview is unclear with Armstrong in the midst of preparations for his team's Jan. 13 divisional round playoff game.

Armstrong, 47, worked for the Bears from 1997-2000 under Dave Wannstedt, and later Dick Jauron. For three years during Armstrong's tenure with the Bears (1998-2000), current general manager Phil Emery served as the club's area scout. Armstrong and Emery also worked three years together in Atlanta (2009-11), where the special teams coach groomed current Bears receiver Eric Weems into a Pro Bowl special teams player.

By interviewing Armstrong, the Bears satisfy conditions of the Rooney Rule, established in 2003, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations openings. Given Emery's history with Armstrong it is unlikely the general manager is simply adhering to the rule, meaning there's a good chance his interest is genuine.

Even so, Armstrong will likely be one of many coaches the Bears interview for Smith's recently vacated position. The Bears reportedly asked permission Monday from Denver to interview offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

McCoy never has worked with quarterback Jay Cutler, receiver Brandon Marshall or current quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who all spent time together in Denver. McCoy joined the Broncos staff in 2009, shortly after the team traded Cutler to the Bears.

Armstrong, meanwhile, has worked in the NFL 16 seasons, including a stint from 2001-07 with the Miami Dolphins.

Current Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub interviewed last year for a head coaching position in Miami, but it's unknown whether he's currently under consideration in Chicago.