Pro Bowl Player
Joined: April 19th, 2005, 2:10 pm
Lovie Turns Up the Heat on Benson
By Bear Report Staff
Date: Aug 1, 2005
Bourbonnais - On the eighth day of running back Cedric Benson's holdout, Bears coach Lovie Smith changed tactics and began to apply pressure.
"We're trying to get our football team ready,'' Smith said after Sunday's practice. "A player we had pegged to be a big part of it isn't here. There's no way for me to sugarcoat it any more. He needs to get into camp. Hopefully that will get done soon.''
Smith admitted to being unhappy with the situation which has his first-round pick, the fourth pick overall, still out of camp with the first preseason game one week away. This is the Bears' longest holdout by a draft pick since wide receiver David Terrell in 2001.
"It's frustrating,'' Smith said. "It's a week in. I understand you're trying to get a contract worked out and all that good stuff.''
Smith couldn't say Benson would be unavailable for the preseason opener Monday at Canton, Ohio against Miami if he gets signed and in camp soon.
"We're not to that point, but we're definitely to the point of, 'Hey, Cedric, we need you in camp now,' " Smith said. "I mean, this is a week now.
"Our teams is getting better, but our plans were to have him be a part of that. Right now, he's missed a week of great work. He needs to get into camp.''
Smith still thinks it's possible for Benson to catch up when he reports.
"It's difficult but he'll do it,'' Smith said. ?Guys hold out.
?In my master plan, I didn't have him holding out this long so it's a little different for me. But we're adjusting.''
Smith has spoken to Benson, even though the Bears have not had serious contract talks with agent Eugene Parker since making an offer July 22.
"I think I'm a little more to Cedric than just a guy that works for the Bears,'' he said. "We have a relationship going and I expect him to be here soon.''
Neither second pick Ronnie Brown of the Miami Dolphins nor third pick Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns has signed, which doesn't help the two sides zero in on money for Benson.
However, fifth pick Cadillac Williams has signed with Tampa and the Bears' previous contract offer to Benson was reportedly close to or less than what Williams received.
For now the Bears continue to use Thomas Jones with the first team. He led them in rushing with 948 yards last year.
"Thomas is a good football player,'' Smith said. "He's our starter and he's played well.
"We're not talking about it really holding us up not having Cedric here because the offense has moved ahead. They're making progress, had a good day today. Thomas Jones is a good football player and he?ll be a big part of what we do.''
Starting defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Ian Scott sat out Sunday's practice. Harris is suffering from a slightly pulled groin muscle while Scott has been plagued with a sore shoulder.
Tank Johnson, Alfonso Boone, Michael Haynes and Alain Kashama took turns playing defensive tackle with the first team.
Cornerback Jerry Azumah, who'd been held out of two straight practices due to leg soreness, returned to first-team defense.
Tight end Dustin Lyman (ankle) and safety Cameron Worrell (hamstring) sat out practice, while linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (concussion) practiced.
The Bears cut guard Matt McGhghy, an undrafted free agent from Northern Illinois University and signed Gabe Lindstrom, a former Toledo punter who they were considering early in camp. Lindstrom will punt while regular punter Brad Maynard heals from a calf injury.