Our friends at ESPNChicago.com were all over Olivet Nazarene University on Thursday as Chicago Bears players reported for training camp. Let's pick up the highlights of their coverage:
From Jeff Dickerson: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler admitted Thursday that the job status of head coach Lovie Smith is part of the motivation for the players this season. "Lovie is one of the best coaches I've been around," Cutler said, "and I know that everyone on this team has a great amount of respect for him, as he does for us. He treats us well. I know some of the guys that have been here longer than me definitely have a lot of ties to him, and we want to go out there for him and play well, because you never know what's going to happen this year if we don't go out and perform -- if Lovie gets to stay or not. That's definitely a question that I'm sure is in the back of everyone else's mind."
Seifert comment: I can't imagine Cutler saying anything different with a straight face. Of course he is going to profess loyalty to the head coach. But I do think it's notable that on the very first day of training camp, the starting quarterback was already admitting that the head coach could be fired after the season. All NFL coaches face win-now pressure, but you don't often see such a significant storyline playing out in July.
Also from Dickerson: Bears center Olin Kreutz, who's coming off Achilles surgery, expects to be on the field when the Bears open practice Friday afternoon. "Yeah, I'm ready to go," he said. "I should be out there for Day 1, if everything goes as planned. I'm ready to go, and hopefully the foot feels better."
Seifert comment: Kreutz's status fell below the radar on this blog for most of the offseason, but the surgery forced him to miss almost the entire slate of offseason workouts. He's been the Bears' best offensive linemen over the past decade, and you wince a bit when you read him saying that "hopefully the foot feels better." I'm guessing that Kreutz will just push through whatever pain he encounters.
By the way, Smith said that all players should be ready to participate in Friday's opening practice. That list includes new tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, who was sidelined for most of the offseason after having surgery to drain his knee.