|National Football League|
Tice shows Bears' new offense to rookies
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) New Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Tice wants to see the Bears play faster and with more explosiveness. He will have to wait a bit to see all of the options at his disposal.
Tice and head coach Lovie Smith got only an abbreviated look Friday at wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, one of their top draft picks. Jeffery, whose conditioning was an issue last season at South Carolina, left his first practice at rookie minicamp because of leg cramps.
"You know, guys do a lot of working out on their own," Smith said. "But it's not like when you come here and work out. I really like what Alshon did earlier in practice - most of the practice, really. I didn't see him drop a ball. He's got big hands, a great target. I really like the way he came in. He's going to be a good football player for us."
"I saw him make a few plays over there in the one-on-one (drills) and back in the old days we called that picking peanuts," said Tice, referring to catching passes over the top of defenders. "He was picking peanuts off some guys heads, it looked like to me. So I think he's going to have the ability for us to make plays."
While 55 rookie camp invitees will go through the revamped offense over the weekend, veterans have already run through Tice's entire offense twice, and will do so again at organized team activities and June camp.
"I mean you're talking about managing people and putting people in position to do their jobs as best they can," he said. "I've been blessed to be a head coach in the league before, so I've had to manage people."
Tice called the new offense an attempt to let players show their skills better than last year, when the team finished 24th overall (314 yards per game) and 17th in scoring (22.1 points per game).
"We have some great athletes on offense," Tice said. "We want to be explosive, we want to be able to get the ball down the field, we want to be able to run the ball explosively, and we're going to do those things."
One area where few changes were made on offense is the line, but Tice said he's comfortable with virtually the same cast back that had a part in allowing 105 sacks the last two seasons.
The only new player is free-agent guard Chilo Rachal. No offensive linemen were drafted. At the rookie minicamp, there are eight offensive linemen, but only two - undrafted James Brown of Troy and A.J. Greene of Auburn - are under contract. The rest are here on a tryout basis.
"I think with the change in scheme, the change in personality if you will, and an offseason, and with getting some guys healthy, I think we'll make a big jump in the offensive line," Tice said.
Tice said he's counting on guard-tackle Chris Williams to be back for offseason practices after dislocating a wrist midway through last season. Tice also expects tackle Gabe Carimi to practice at some point during organized team activities or mini-camp after knee surgery.
Defensively, the Bears got their first look at first-round pick Shea McClellin. The defensive end signed a four-year contract Friday and became the fifth Bears draft pick to sign. The only unsigned pick is safety Brandon Hardin, a third-rounder from Oregon State.
McClellin came into the draft considered by some as a linebacker, but Smith said he saw only a defensive end Friday.
"If you watched practice today I don't think you saw him pass-dropping or anything like that," Smith said. "He had his hand down in the dirt trying to become a better pass rusher. And that's what it's all about. You have to be able to get pressure on the quarterback. We feel like we've gotten better with our pass rush by bringing him in."
McClellin was happy to finish the contract negotiations.
"I think it's good to get it out of the way," he said. "My agents did a great job getting it done before camp started."
The camp, which features all six draft picks, 11 undrafted free agents, 34 tryout players, and four veterans, continues through Sunday.
Updated May 12, 2012