Lovie Smith: No lockout effect on Bears
DES PLAINES, Ill. -- In the event the NFL lockout forces teams to miss a substantial amount of organized offseason workouts, the Chicago Bears will be one of the organizations least affected, according to head coach Lovie Smith.
"We do have a veteran group [that provides] a lot of great leadership," Smith said Tuesday at the awards ceremony honoring 2010 Ed Block Courage Award winner defensive tackle Anthony Adams. "This lockout might be hurting some teams that are just getting started, but we have a veteran staff, we have a veteran team. It's not like we have to be out telling the guys exactly what they need to be doing. They're professionals, [and] they know we'll eventually have a season and you'll have to be ready to go once we're told it's time to go back to work. We're pretty good about that."
A hearing is scheduled in Minnesota on Wednesday in front of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, who will hear the players' request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. If Nelson rules in favor of the players, the doors to practice facilities across the NFL could be open for business at some point in April. But if Nelson refuses to issue the injunction, the lockout will continue, and players will be forced to work out away from the watchful eye of coaches and team trainers.
"It's difficult because nobody is telling you what to do," Adams said Tuesday. "You're on your own and feel like you're on your own in this situation. But I gave my phone number to everybody to call me if they want to, or they should call other guys in their respective positions. If the wide receivers are feeling [like getting together], they can call Rashied [Davis]. The defensive line, they can call myself."
While most players continue to train at off-site facilities across the country, Smith has thrown himself into preparing for the upcoming NFL draft. Smith has attended several Pro Days in the weeks following the NFL scouting combine, which has allowed the head coach to spend more time with potential draftees.
The Bears are currently scheduled to pick at No. 29 overall, the organization's first opening-round choice since the team selected offensive lineman Chris Williams at No. 14 overall in the 2008 draft. The Bears sent first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 to the Denver Broncos in the package to acquire quarterback Jay Cutler prior to the 2009 season.
"I know the players a lot better now than I did the last time I talked to you [the media] at the combine," Smith said. "We've been out a few times watching guys work out, been at personal workouts and have had time for video, just watching their tapes from their seasons. We're excited about having our top two picks. It's been a while since we've had a chance to participate in the draft early on.
"We should get some good football players to add to a solid core we have now."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.