Smith, Bears have sights set on winning a title
Smith, Bears setting their sights on a title
April 16, 2012 Smith, Bears have sights set on winning a title
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 4/16/2012 6:13 PM
Welcoming players back to Halas Hall Monday for the start of the Bears’ voluntary offseason program, coach Lovie Smith proved the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Near the end of a team meeting, Smith delivered a powerful message by showing a photo on a large video screen of the Louisiana Superdome, site of Super Bowl XLVII next February.
“I talked about some of the special guys that we had in the room and [how] sometimes in order to really validate some careers of the great players we have, you have to finish up with the ring,” Smith said. “That’s what it’s all about. “We talked to them about the group and how special it was and that we’re capable of doing that. We talked about having our best group of men this time of year all assembled together.”
While some players had been working out at Halas Hall in recent weeks, many saw their teammates Monday for the first time in more than three months.
“You spend a lot of time with them during the season and once that’s over you kind of miss these guys,” said tight end Matt Spaeth.
“It feels like a long time,” said safety Craig Steltz. “But once you get back up here, you kind of feel like you never left. We’re just excited to get back together. We’re building a foundation right here, and today’s Day 1."
With eight new players acquired since March 13—most notably three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Michael Bush—introductions were necessary Monday.
“There’s a lot of excitement with our team and some of the guys that we added,” Spaeth said. “If you look at what we did last year and then the guys that we added, I think we’re in store for a really good year.”
Other new players include quarterback Jason Campbell, linebacker Blake Costanzo, receivers Eric Weems and Devin Thomas, and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite.
“It is a challenge when you bring in new players and some new coaches too I might add,” Smith said. “But you just start the process. We did our research. We feel like all of these guys bring something unique to our football team.
"So we are anxious to plug them in. We started that process on Day 1. I know they’re all excited about being a Chicago Bear.”
Members of the offense are excited about Mike Tice taking over as their coordinator.
“Working with Mike Tice will be a lot of fun,” said receiver Earl Bennett. “We want to be an explosive offense and he’s going to give you opportunities to make plays. We’ve just got to go out there and just do it and just have fun with it.”
The Bears will have to wait to find out just how explosive. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, activities during the first two weeks of the offseason program are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehab, with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field with players.
Still, cornerback Tim Jennings was among those predicting a successful 2012 campaign.
"What excites me most is the opportunity we have," said Jennings, who re-signed with the team March 13. "I'm looking forward to a lot of great things in the upcoming season."