Bears haven't heard from Benson since camp started

Updated: July 25, 2005, 10:02 PM ET
Associated Press

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Jerry Angelo painted a darker picture Monday of contract negotiations with running back Cedric Benson, the fourth pick in the draft.

The sides have not spoken since the start of training camp, Angelo said.

"We're certainly on top of this," Angelo said. "We're very motivated to get him into camp. We made a very, very strong offer -- something we felt should have gotten it done. Obviously, they didn't think that. We have to respect their side, obviously. We'll just wait and see what the next step is."

Benson's agent, Eugene Parker, did not return a message left at his office Monday afternoon. San Francisco's agreement with quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 pick in the draft, on Monday is expected to set off a run of signings among first-round selections. Philadelphia defensive tackle Mike Patterson and New England offensive lineman Logan Mankins, the final two picks of the first round, are the only first-rounders to sign so far.

"We haven't talked; we're waiting to hear from them," Angelo said. "We'll just let it run its course. That's really about it. [There's] nothing imminent at all."

Monday was the Bears' first practice in pads. The first preseason game is Aug. 8 against Miami in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, and the season opens Sept. 11 at Washington. There's plenty of time to fix the flaws. At the moment, there's no shortage of optimism coming from the Bears' camp -- even though Benson remains unsigned.

Coach Lovie Smith is downplaying his absence, but what if negotiations drag on?

"I'm a day-to-day kind of guy," Smith said. "He's not here today. Hopefully, he'll be here tomorrow. We'll just deal with it as it goes. We have so much going on on the field right now, we really can't think and talk about Cedric until he gets into camp."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press