Bears

Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

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Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

While the airwaves around Chicago were burning up the past few days about the Cubs' front office supposedly letting Ryan Dempster listen in on their talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the accusations started to fly that what the Cubs reportedly did was unethical and lacked integrity.

However, did anybody bother to ask Ryan Dempster exactly what happened and then put his version up against what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says happened?

I called Dempster Monday and spoke with him at length about the events surrounding last Tuesdays trade deadline deal that sent him to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. He was emphatic that at no time did he ever listen in on any conversation between the Cubs and Dodgers.

"I hung out in the Cubs offices playing Golden Tee in the break room and saying some goodbyes to people in the offices that I have known for as long as Ive been a Cub," Dempster said. "I also wanted to be accessible to Theo and Jed so that if a deal came up that they needed my approval on I would be easy to find. At no time did I ever listen in on any phone calls between the Cubs and any other team."

I also spoke with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and he denies that Dempster listened in on any phone calls with the Dodgers or anyone else.

"We had Ryan in here so we could keep him apprised on the talks as they developed throughout the afternoon," Hoyer said. "With a firm deadline of 3:00 p.m., things were happening quickly and we wanted him to know all of the possibilities that were in play. At no time did Ryan ever listen in on any phone calls without someones knowledge. If that were true I would understand the Dodgers being upset but that wasnt the case as he never listened in on any calls."

Dempster did speak with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and it was after that call that the decision to accept a trade to the Texas Rangers was made. The Dodgers' offer, according to multiple sources around baseball was not a strong one and after talking with Colletti it became obvious that a trade to Los Angeles was not going to happen.

"I got on the phone with Ned Colletti and we had a short conversation but it was obvious that a deal wasnt going to get done so I agreed to go to Texas, Dempster told me.

It is understandable how people may have thought that Dempster was listening in after hearing the comments of Theo Epstein after the trade deadline. Epstein relayed the story of Dempster being in the Cubs offices prior to the 3 p.m. deadline.

"We joked about it every day," Epstein told a group of beat reporters. "And in the end, once he came to our office and actually heard the conversations we were having with L.A., he realized: OK, maybe thats actually not going to happen.Let me consider a couple other places.

But I think it was helpful to have him there. He could hear firsthand that it probably wasnt going to happen. If someone really wants to go to a place, you can tell them over and over again its probably not going to happen. But unless theyre convinced of that, they may not want to move on to their second choice."

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

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.

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was drafted 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.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”