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Urlacher makes plea for FieldTurf

The Sports Xchange

If Bears players had any say in the surface on which they competed, the "grass" at Soldier Field would have already been dug up and replaced with FieldTurf.

The 10,000 fans who purchased tickets for Friday night's Family Fest at Soldier Field were understandably upset when the practice was canceled. Unsafe playing conditions arose when dangerous seams occurred between rolls of recently laid sod, the result of a lack of water.

"It was a joke," said Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. "I don't understand how they can't have the field ready. It (stinks) for the fans because I'm sure it was a pain in the butt to get down there with all the (Lollapalooza) traffic and everything. But I think coach (Lovie Smith) did the right thing not letting us practice on that stuff. We ended up getting a late practice in (Friday) night (at Olivet Nazarene University), but it's just too bad that it had to be that way."

The installation of FieldTurf would eliminate situations like the one that existed Friday night and also the deplorable condition of the field that occurs near the end of every season.

"I don't understand why we don't have FieldTurf yet," Urlacher said. "We're a fast team. We play fast on FieldTurf. The injury issues aren't as bad as they used to be. They've gone down a lot in the last few years with the way they've made the turf, so I don't understand it. (We should) use our speed because we know we can run. Let us get out there and run."

--Unrestricted free agent nose tackle Anthony Adams is glad to be back after starting all 16 games last season, his fourth with the Bears.

"I didn't want to go anywhere else," said the ninth-year veteran, who re-signed last Friday and can begin practicing today. "Coach (Rod) Marinelli and coach (Lovie) Smith called me and let me know that they wanted me here. That kind of eased the tension a little bit. I'm glad that they called me and told me that they wanted me back. But I already knew that anyway."

While athleticism and speed are valued in the Bears' Cover-2 defense, the scheme also needs a stout run stuffer in the middle, and that's Adams' wheelhouse.

"I fit this system to a 'T,'" he said. "It's kind of my makeup, just shoot the gap, hustle, play my role, understand my role within the defense, get off blocks and just help my linebackers out and help the guys up front. It's just what I do."

Despite the congestion he encounters in the middle, Adams led all Bears interior linemen with 36 tackles last season. He does the dirty work and relishes the role.

"I've got the build for it," said the 6-foot, 310-pounder. "I attract 300-pounders -- two at the same time. It's the heart and soul of the defense. If you can run the ball up the middle, you're taking the heart and soul of the defense away. You've got to have pride in it, and you've got to bring your lunch pail every day because you already know you're going to get a lot of double teams."

--When Mike Martz was hired as the Bears' offensive coordinator Feb. 1, 2010, tight end Greg Olsen saw the writing on the wall. Martz has never really had much use for the tight end as a pass catcher in his offensive scheme, and catching the ball is what Olsen does best.

Olsen wanted to be traded, but it took more than a year to facilitate his request, when they shipped him to the Panthers last week for a third-round draft choice.

"He came at me hard last year," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "I understood it. I told him I'd think about it. Greg is a great kid, works his tail off. I said, 'Greg, no, I don't see that being in our best interest.' It's about the team. I said, 'That's going to hurt our football team.' I said, 'You're going to have to suck it up, just do your job. You've got a contract, we've paid you well for your services.'

"He's a professional, and he took the high road. I respect that. This year was different. We're really not looking for Kellen Winslow. We're looking for Mike Ditka. The tight ends we have now really fit more the profile we want for our offense. And we got some good compensation. They got a heck of a tight end. Greg is in a good spot. We hope he's in the Pro Bowl and he has a great career. We really wish him the best."

--Training camp is barely a week old, but already Henry Melton has made his presence felt, flashing quickness and the ability to get to the quarterback from the 3-technique tackle spot.

Melton seemed out of place playing inside last season because he was listed at just 260 pounds, but in limited snaps he had 2.5 sacks, fourth best on the team. This season, the 6-foot-3 Melton is listed at 295 pounds, and he doesn't appear to have lost any of the quickness that allowed him to play in 25 games at Texas as a running back. He was drafted as a defensive end, where he started 10 games for the Longhorns, but the Bears' coaching staff quickly identified him as a player who could have a pass-rush presence inside by using his quickness against bigger guards and centers.

"There are a lot of things that we learned last year, and resolving the offensive line is an issue, getting that kind of stabilized. There's a lot of positive things going into the season where we would expect to be much better and become a much better football team on offense than what we were last year." -- Mike Martz, whose offense was 30th in total yards last season, 28th in passing yards and 32nd in sacks allowed.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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