The Chicago Bears have officially kicked off their training camp. Rookies reported to their dorms today, and the first practice will be Thursday. General Manager Phil Emery held a press conference today, and praised his team, but also said they have their work cut out for them if they want to be dubbed Super Bowl contenders this season.
Phil Emery spoke to the media Tuesday at training camp and remained humble about his new team. “I think we’ve made progress. But to say we’re a Super Bowl contender, it has to be earned on the field,” Emery said Tuesday as the Bears kicked off training camp in Bourbonnais. “Do we have good, talented players that can contribute towards a winning team and moving towards our goals to win a championship? Yes, we do. Are we there? No, we’re not. We have to earn that every day on the field.”
Head Coach Lovie Smith also spoke to reporters in Bourbonnais. “Looking at our roster going into camp, it looks about as good as it has since I’ve been here. We realize that, we embrace that. We have a good football team,” Smith said.
The Chicago Bears were very active this off-season, and upgraded their roster with some key acquisitions. They traded for Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall; signed running back Michael Bush, quarterback Jason Campbell and cornerback Kelvin Hayden; and selected defensive end Shea McClellin and receiver Alshon Jeffery with their first two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. Not to mention they extended Matt Forte for four more years in the Windy City.
“I felt very good about where it ended up,” Emery said. “I felt like it was a win-win for the Bears and for Matt. I’m very excited. I didn’t see any winners or losers; I only saw the benefit to the team.
“I think Matt sees that, and we’re excited to get him back on the field and to see his contributions and to help us towards our goals, which are winning championships, beating Green Bay, winning our division, all big parts of getting to that Super Bowl, winning it now and into the future.”
Emery told reporters that he’s happy that the Forte deal got done before training camp.
“I think he’s fully focused. I think he would have been fully focused one way or the other, but it’s great to have him in,” Emery said. “It’s great that he has that security, that he has that contract, that we as a team have that security. Like I said, it’s a win-win situation for both of us.”
In his first offseason as general manager, Emery was also determined to surround quarterback Jay Cutler with more weapons.
“Jay is a cornerstone player of our franchise,” Emery said. “We want to build around Jay. I feel very good about his talent level and his ability, and his traits to lead us to championships. So definitely we wanted to bring weapons around him and that led to some of the situations that we did move forward on.”
Jay Cutler seemed excited about the new look Bears. “Getting new guys around us on offense is like Christmas: there are new weapons, new toys for us to play with. I think everyone’s comfortable. Obviously, still a lot of work to do. So we need to take that next step as an offense.”
His new target Brandon Marshall seemed to share the same excitement telling reporters, ”Very excited but at the same time, ready to get the job done. ”I’m focused .. most focused I’ve ever been in my professional career.”
All players on the Chicago Bears roster, except for Johnny Knox, are expected to be on the field Thursday when they conduct their first training camp practice. That includes star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who sat out the offseason program while recovering from a knee injury he suffered in last year’s season finale.
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