One Bears tradition that appears to be ending, for the time being at least, is that of the teams personnel chief getting together with local media at the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. New GM Phil Emery wont be available during the Combine, departing from something that went back to Bill Tobin, Rod Graves, Mark Hatley and Jerry Angelo.
Emery said during his introductory press session that he would not be talking publicly about players or team needs, so this really isnt a complete surprise.
But its a little too early to conclude that a media boycott of sorts is being imposed.
For one thing, coach Lovie Smith will chat with everyone on Thursday morning, really the first time hes been available since seasons end and Emerys arrival. Smith and most other coaches do this every year, sort of a mid-point briefing between the end of the year and the draftfree agency onset.
And Emery is less than a month into his new job. Doubtless he has done more than a little scouting and evaluating of Bears personnel already (hed have done some prior to his interviews, and the Bears played the Kansas City Chiefs during the season while he was in their front office).
So this close to first impressions is probably a little early for an in-depth chat about the Bears, the free-agent market and the draft. Hopefully Emery will go public a little more over time.
Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.
In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that were 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.
Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.
Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.
Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.
Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals.
"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.
"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."
Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.
Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.