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.