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Oakland not Raiding Bears for Tice

The Sports Xchange
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--The Bears get to hold onto offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

The Raiders requested permission to speak to Tice, but he did not interview for Oakland's head-coaching position. Tice was initially expected to interview on Jan. 24, but the Raiders were up to the second round of interviews by then.

That suited the Bears just fine, as they would have been facing a rough offseason, considering Tice had just taken over for former coordinator Mike Martz a few days earlier.

Chicago is still looking to hire a successor as offensive line coach for Tice, and also needs a quarterbacks coach to fill Shane Day's spot. Tice is expected to put his energy more on the running game, meaning the quarterbacks' coach will be a key figure in putting together the passing game.

The quarterbacks coach is also expected to be instrumental in coordinating the team's passing game, with Tice focusing more on the run game.

--RB Matt Forte wasn't able to play in the last four games of the season due to a sprained knee but has indicated an interest in returning for the Pro Bowl.

"If Matt wants to play in the Pro Bowl, I'm all for him playing in the Pro Bowl," coach Lovie Smith said the day after the regular season ended. "I think it's special when you get voted by your peers, to go to your first Pro Bowl, and (especially considering) the type of year he had, even missing the last (four) games. But I am in favor, if Matt wants to, and he's indicated to me that he does want to play in it, so good for him."

--CB Charles Tillman was named as a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Tillman, who had also been named to the Pro Bowl this year, was one of three finalists.

Since 2005, the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation has raised more than $1.2 million and affected more than one million children in the Chicago area. Initially offering kids educational resources, the foundation's mission changed for an extremely personal reason in 2008.

That's when Tillman's 3-month old daughter was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. She needed a heart transplant, and received one. She is now healthy and active, but her ordeal prompted the foundation to

focus on critically and chronically ill children in the area.

--DE Julius Peppers, the Bears' sack-leader with 11 this season, was added to the Pro Bowl roster to fill in for the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, who will instead prep for the Super Bowl.

It was the seventh Pro Bowl nod for Peppers. He became the first Bears' defensive end to reach the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons since Hall of Famer Richard Dent did so in 1984 and '85. He is the sixth Bear named to this year's all-star game, joining linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, running back Matt Forte, cornerback Charles Tillman and special teams coverage man Corey Graham.

--The Bears re-signed special teams coordinator Dave Toub on Tuesday, a strong move which should keep that unit among the league's best.

Toub, who had interviewed for the Dolphins' head coaching job last week, was tabbed for a two-year deal by the Bears.

"I wouldn't want to coach special teams anywhere else," Toub told the Bears' website. "I think I let the Bears' organization know that. I'm just so fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to keep going here.

"Why would I want to go to another place and try to establish what we already have here? Lovie is great with, No. 1, letting me do my job, letting us do what we do with our special teams. He trusts us. I'm talking about (special teams assistant) Kevin O'Dea and myself. He gives us the tools that we need. Whether it's players, whether it's time, we get everything that we need here to be successful."

--After 19 seasons as an NFL coach, former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz will retire.

Martz was not rehired after the 2011 regular season, following two up-and-down years as the Bears' offensive architect.

Martz was the St. Louis Rams' head coach for five seasons from 2000-05, and their offensive coordinator for a year before that. Back then, he was in charge of the explosive offense that became known as "The Greatest Show on Turf." The Bears only rarely featured that type of prolific attack in Martz's two years in Chicago.

With injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler, who fractured his wrist on Nov. 20, to end his season, and running back Matt Forte, who went out with a knee sprain two weeks later, the Bears' offense faltered this year.

Chicago finished among the league's bottom-dwellers in several key offensive categories. It was just 24th in total yards, 26th in passing yards, 27th in third-down efficiency, 29th in interceptions and 31st in sacks allowed.

--RB Matt Forte is likely to get stuck with the "franchise" tag, which will keep him in Chicago.

In that role, and as a running back whose franchise number will be approximately $7.8 million this year, Forte would earn the Bears a pair of first-round draft picks were he to sign with another team. That would be a lot for a team to give up, so he isn't likely to find a suitor.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"It's not up to me. Either one of two things, I get franchised or I don't." -- Bears running back Matt Forte.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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