NEWS AND NOTES
Making it in the NFL is difficult for anyone, but getting to the highest level as a specialist like Ball State punter Chris Miller is even tougher.
Miller, a local kid who grew up a short drive from the Bears' north suburban Lake Forest practice facility, spent the weekend auditioning for the Bears in hopes of being signed and invited to training camp in late July. For punters and kickers, the path to an NFL training camp often comes via tryout since so few are drafted. Only three punters were taken in last month's draft, and only two place-kickers were selected. It's a struggle to even get to a training camp since the NFL reduced roster sizes from 100 to 80.
Brad Maynard, like Miller a Ball State product, is entrenched as the Bears' punter, but Miller knows if he gets to training camp and into a preseason game, it's an audition for every other team in the NFL – some of which could be in need of his services. Miller and Miami's (Ohio) Jacob Richardson were the only punters at the weekend rookie minicamp, and Jeff Wolfert was the only kicker.
"The Bears said they're going to bring one specialist [to camp]," Miller said. "It's up in the air, and I can only hope for the best."
Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub wasn't sure which way the team would go when it comes time to decide which specialist will be brought to camp. …
Vanderbilt was already well represented on the roster, with quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, offensive tackle Chris Williams and wide receiver Earl Bennett, even before cornerback D.J. Moore was drafted in the fourth round and wide receiver George Smith was invited to a tryout.
Bennett welcomed Moore and Smith to town by taking them out to eat. He didn't spend too much of last year's signing bonus, though, since they dined at Denny's. But it wasn't a case of Bennett being cheap, according to Moore.
"We made the decision," Moore said, laughing. "We wanted to go to Denny's. It was the closest thing."
Smith was one of 25 players invited to try out at the rookie minicamp, which also includes the nine undrafted free agents who were signed the day after the draft and the nine draft choices. …
When the Bears drafted Lance Louis in the seventh round, they said the 6-2, 300-pounder would play tight end, which was a bit of a surprise considering his girth, even though he ran a 4.74 40 at San Diego State's pro day.
But Louis lined up at left tackle and left guard at the rookie minicamp, where most 300-pounders should be, and he was listed as a guard on the roster.
"I'm whatever will help the team," Louis said when asked to clear up the confusion. "Wherever they need me to play, I'll play it. I'm not complaining."
Louis was a tight end in his first two seasons with the Aztecs, but he grew into an offensive lineman. …
Smith was asked for a reaction to the recent release of Brett Favre and Vikings coach Brad Childress' admission that his team might consider at a later date.
"I'm on record as being a Brett Favre fan," Smith said. "He's a great player, so I assume if he is available, teams will try to get him. It's good for our league if players like that are still playing. Right now, I'm trying to get the Bears ready."
Smith was then asked if Favre would be good for the NFC North.
"Well," he said, "again, right now, we're trying to get the Bears ready." …
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said he was pleased with the performance of all three wide receivers who were drafted last month – Iglesias, Knox and Pittsburgh's Derek Kinder.
Knox is taking the biggest step up in class, coming from a Division-II program, so Turner was asked if the transition is more difficult for the speedyster.
"I don't think that's necessarily the case," Turner said. "From what I saw, he ran routes pretty well [Sunday]."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I'm trying to figure out what three Jerry didn't like." – Head coach Lovie Smith's reaction when informed that general manager Jerry Angelo said six of the Bears' nine draft picks would realistically be expected to make the final 53-man roster.
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