Michigan men get new lease on life

Lovie Smith addressed the media publicly for the first time since being named head coach January 15th. He discussed a variety of topics Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting combine including the future of David Terrell.

Among the more interesting bits of information came when Lovie Smith revealed the fact that David Terrell was among the first players to make his way into his office seeking a fresh start.

"Of course I knew a little bit about him before I got here, but he was one of the first guys to come in and say, 'Hey, coach, it hasn't been perfect for me here in the past. You're starting off new; I want the same opportunity. Judge me from here on out. I'll show you that I can help the Bears win and win big. I'm a big-time player, give me a chance to do that.' And that's what we're going to do," Smith said of Terrell.

The former first-round pick did not flourish in John Shoop's conservative offense catching just 86 balls in three seasons. Part of that failure can be put at Shoop's feet, but at some point Terrell has to prove that his play on the field can match his mouth.

Terrell will be given every opportunity to win the starting job opposite Marty Booker. However if he's not able to perform then Justin Gage, who averaged nearly 20 yards per reception, proved he deserves more of an opportunity.

While Anthony Thomas might not be the ideal fit in the new offense the Bears plan on running, Smith believes that there is a place for the "A-Train" in Chicago.

"To me, most good running backs, if you're a 1,000-yard rusher, you can fit into most systems that run the football," Smith Said. "Anthony can fit into our system, maybe some guys are a little bit better (fit) than others. Marshall Faulk will fit into any system around. I think good running backs will do that."

Although Thomas eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in three years, Smith didn't go out of his way to flatter the running back but stressed that his coaching staff will evaluate Thomas on what thy s from this point forward.

"People have asked quite a bit about Anthony. Last year wasn't a great year for him, but it wasn't a great year for a lot of players on our team," Smith said. "We're starting over, he's going to get a chance to start over, too. He's already been in. He wants us to give him a chance to evaluate him. He was a good player in the past and he'll be a good player in the future."

There is still a chance the Bears could address the running back position in the first-round of the draft. Of the backs available Kevin Jones out of Virginia Tech seems to be the combination of size and speed, as he's believed to have sub 4.4 speed at 227 pounds.

Jake Grove, who is considered the top center in the draft, blocked for Jones at Virginia Tech and believes his former teammate has a lot to offer a club.

"Kevin is a guy when came to (Virginia) Tech he had all the ability in the world and I've seen a lot of guys like that that didn't pan out. He worked himself everyday in the weight room, in practice, on the field, wherever he was he worked himself to become the best running back in the country."

BEARS SIGN JAMIN ELLIOTT
The Bears signed WR Jamin Elliott to a two-year contract Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Elliott, who was drafted by the Bears in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, spent most of the 2003 season on the New England Patriots practice squad after he was released by Chicago following training camp (8/25/03). He was on the Patriots 53-man roster for one contest last season, playing in New England's 12-0 win over Dallas. Elliott played in two games as a rookie for the Bears in 2002, making his NFL debut on special teams at Carolina (12/22/02) and playing in the season finale against Tampa Bay.

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