Lovie, Bears players keeping their distance d
Lovie, Bears players keeping their distance during lockout
By Vaughn McClure Tribune reporter 9:00 p.m. CDT, April 4, 2011
It made for somewhat of an awkward situation last Monday night when Lovie Smith sat four seats down from tight end Greg Olsen as the two judged the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk contest at Chicago State.
Smith didn’t say a word to Olsen during the event and barely looked Olsen’s way the entire time. The Bears coach briefly greeted his player prior to the event.
Sure, Smith wanted to ask Olsen about his offseason and how training was going down in Miami. But he avoided such conversation, with players and coaches barred from extended contact during ongoing NFL lockout. There's a possibly matters could change once federal judge Susan Richard Nelson decides whether or not to halt the lockout when the case hits a Minneapolis court room Wednesday. But until then, Smith has to keep his distance. As do the players.
"You want to talk, but you know what it is," Smith said, referring to the no-contact rule. "Greg knows what it is, and I know what it is. … We both understand the landscape of what’s going on right now. We just hope that, eventually, we’ll be able to do a lot more than just see each other."
Smith will find himself in somewhat of the same situation Tuesday when he joins Pat and George McCaskey to present nose tackle Anthony Adams with the Ed Block Courage award at Maryville Academy. It’s a yearly event and approved charitable function, under the league lockout rules. Still, Smith won’t get a chance to mingle too long with Adams, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
But the no-contact rule is not a big a deal to Smith right now as people might make it out to be.
"Sure, you want to keep up with your players. But keep in mind, our offseason program wouldn’t have started right now," Smith explained. "Our offseason program is pretty much 40 days right now. We haven’t missed anything yet. We were going to start our program on April 11. So right now, it’s business as usual."
Smith also is not overly concerned with his players’ workout schedules. True, it would be beneficial for quarterback Jay Cutler to get together with his receivers to work on timing or for Olin Kreutz to organize the offensive linemen. But it’s not a dire need in Smith’s eyes, at least not at this point.
"I’m assuming right now, guys are doing what they normally do,’’ Smith said. ``It’s not like we’re talking about of bunch of junior high and Pop Warner kids. These are professionals. They work out. Players just don’t work out because coaches tell them. They take this seriously, so I assume they all are working out, like they normally do.’’