Victor Cruz, Cam Meredith seem cool with WR coach

Victor Cruz, Cam Meredith seem cool with WR coach

John Fox has had a winding road. Nine different stops in nine years to start his coaching career. His first NFL gig came 28 years ago with the Steelers as the secondary coach. Probably desperate to impress.

"Just being fair, honest, direct," the Bears head coach said Thursday when asked how a rookie NFL assistant should handle that first opportunity, coaching the best players in the world. "Guys will respond if you make them better. We're after the same thing they're after, winning games."

So in the wake of whatever Wednesday was, with Kevin White clarifying comments from first-year wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni on how and why he watched his college tape, we checked in with a couple of other members of that position room about the energetic 41-year-old who's in the pros after 18 years on the college circuit.

"It's going well," said Victor Cruz, who caught a touchdown pass to help the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. "He likes to call his tactics `college-y'. I think it's great, kind of refreshing for me to have a guy who is from a college program and has that kind of work ethic. He wants the ball tucked away, wants us to blast through the line after we catch a five-, 10-yard route. He wants that attention to detail, and it's good for us. We have a relatively young room and that kind of attention to detail's only gonna make us better."

Like Cruz, Cam Meredith was an undrafted free agent who's worked his way to the point of knocking on the door as a number-one or two receiver.

"Every coach is different," the former Illinois State quarterback said after Thursday's indoor walk-through at Olivet Nazarene. "He brings a lot of energy to the room. It's a different mindset, different culture that we're building here. So to go to every meeting, have him upbeat, staying on guys, it's not anything new, but it's good to have that in a room."

The 30-year-old Cruz (31 in November) has at least two years on every other wide receiver on the Bears roster. Not that he's anxious to begin a coaching career himself as he tries to regain his Pro Bowl form of four and five years ago, but he's willing to let inquiring minds tap into his, as well.

"It's weird because when I start talking, or give coaching point, they're like `He's talking to us!'," he told reporters, drawing laughter. "It's a good feeling and I just want to tell them things that are gonna help them. Because I've seen every look, every circumstance from a 6-10 team as opposed to a 9-7 team that headed to the Super Bowl. I've seen both sides of it. It's funny when I speak, how they listen, so it's a good thing."

But at least publicly, the Bears wideout who's seen the most says he's willing to listen to the man who runs the room.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Chris Emma (670 The Score) and Ben Finfer join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.

Allen Robinson’s former Jaguars teammate is a free agent. Would signing Allen Hurns make sense for the Bears?

Plus, Loyola has traffic problems on the Road to the Final Four and the guys debate the biggest need for the Blackhawks heading into a long offseason.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

USA Today

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

Kyle Fuller caused a bit of a panic late Friday afternoon when a report dropped that he signed an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers. For a few hours, the prospect — even if it was always unlikely — of the Bears losing their best cornerback to their arch rivals to the north loomed over Chicago. 

For Fuller, though, he said he barely had time to think about the possibility of cashing in on his breakout 2017 season with the Packers. The Bears quickly matched the offer sheet, officially announcing the four-year deal Tuesday that makes Fuller one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

“It was crazy not really knowing what to expect,” Fuller said. “I would have never expected it. But when (the Packers’ offer sheet) came, it was definitely something to consider, just on the business side of it. At the end of the day, how it all played out, I’m definitely happy.”

Fuller sounded like someone who took a more passive role to his quasi-restricted free agency that was set about when the Bears placed the transition tag on him, allowing them to match any offer sheet that he were to sign. Fuller said he didn’t know all the details of what was going on with offer sheets coming in and negotiations with the Bears.

“I kinda was just getting the information from (my agents) and going with the flow of everything and knowing that at the end of the day it would end up working out,” Fuller said. 

The $14 million average annual value of Fuller’s contract ranks fifth among cornerbacks, behind only Washington’s Josh Norman ($15 million), New York’s Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million) Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes ($14.02 million) and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), according to Spotrac. 

Fuller said he considers himself a top-five cornerback in the league, and he played like someone who could wind up in that discussion in 2017. The 2014 first-round pick was one of four players to break up 20 or more passes last year, and he picked off two passes in December while providing excellent support against the run. 

“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”