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Bears acknowledge talking with Bennett’s agent

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Reports that the Chicago Bears shopped tight end Martellus Bennett around were not surprising considering he wasn’t at the voluntary minicamp. If he was shopped around, it was the Bears doing it because general manager Ryan Pace said Bennett did not ask for a trade.

It’s unknown whether Bennett will participate in OTAs, although it’s expected he’d be at the mandatory minicamp in June.

“With him, it’s individual choices,” Pace said. “I’ve been talking to him and his agent and we’d love for him to be here right now and competing here, especially with what we’ve got going right now.”

Pace was referring to the installation of the offense, which Bennett was missing.

“That’s his individual choice, it’s voluntary, and hopefully he’ll be here sooner rather than later,” he said.

–Second-round pick Eddie Goldman, a Florida State nose tackle, lined up across from third-round Bears pick Hroniss Grasu, Oregon’s center, in the Rose Bowl.

“A good battle,” Pace said. “Those are two great players going at it and they’ll be doing it again in practice. They’re both competitive. You saw it throughout the game.”

Who won? Oregon won the game, and that’s what counted.

–Grasu believes his experience in Oregon’s no-huddle spread offense counts as a great asset.

“At Oregon, when you play offensive line, it just comes down to move a guy that’s lined up in front of you from Point A to Point B,” he said. “I think we’ve done that pretty well at Oregon. There’s a reason why we’ve been leading the Pac-12 in rushing yards.”

The no-huddle aspect of it places a lot of pressure on centers.

“I think it will really help out in Chicago because I was always asked to make a lot of decisions under a short amount of time, a matter of six or seven seconds,” he said.

–Pace wouldn’t discount Goldman staying on the field for third downs even though the 6-foot-4, 336-pounder is a nose tackle.

“I know a lot of people say ‘when you say nose tackle, you just think this is a two-down guy,'” Pace said. “He can collapse the pocket. He’s got strong power to bull rush, so he can provide that, too. That’s going to help a lot.

“I know it helps the outside linebackers when they’re coming off the edge if you’ve got some push in the middle and he can provide that.”

–Sixth-round pick Tayo Fabuluje fights the eternal fight with the waistline, and the 6-foot-7, 360-pound tackle has been anywhere from 310 to 360. When he dropped a large amount of weight, he said it wasn’t that difficult.

“Just cutting out fast foods, I mean, especially in Texas, there’s a lot of fast food around, you know? Deep-fried this and sweet-tea that. You have to cut out all that stuff and be more careful about it.”

On draft day, coach John Fox talked to Fabuluje first.

“They were telling me that one of the first things they’re going to do when I get there is going to throw me on the scale, and we all got a good laugh out of that,” he said. “I’m not worried about that.”

–The Bears could take a long look at using veterans to return punts or kicks. Veteran safety Antrel Rolle and receiver Eddie Royal did it some in minicamp.

“You’re trying to win the down,” Fox said. “Whether that’s punt return or third-down defense, you’re trying to win that down. So you want to put the guys out there that give you the best chance to do that.

“I’ve done both. Steve Smith was a Pro Bowl receiver and he was our return man for a couple years. That’s part of their job description and we’re going to try to field the best guys we can.”

–Linebacker Shea McClellin is getting time at inside linebacker after starting as a defensive end three years ago and then moving to outside linebacker last year. Fox said he could be moved again, but thinks he fits as an inside linebacker in the 3-4.

“It’s (outside) an option but right now I think putting him inside, he is a good athlete, he does have good size, good length,” Fox said.

–Nothing has been etched in stone as far as a position for second-year defensive lineman Ego Ferguson. The 6-foot-2, 309-pounder had seemed to be a potential nose tackle before the draft, but the selection of Eddie Goldman means the need for a big man on the inside is less urgent.

Also, Ferguson has lost some weight and may project as an end in the 3-4. The Bears’ roster for minicamp listed him as one.

“We’ve talked about that a lot,” Pace said. “We project him as really nose and end. He can be both for us. So we don’t have him set at one position right now.”

–Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff is expected back for the team’s future non-mandatory work after he missed the minicamp for unspecified reasons.

–Fox plans to end the practice of the team choosing captains each week that former coach Marc Trestman used.

“Just going forward, it’ll be something that our players will vote on,” he said. “Myself and the staff will stress to them the importance that this isn’t just a popularity contest. It’s a true leadership role.

“That usually comes down to when things aren’t going well, who’s going to rise up and say the right things?”

A closer look at the Bears’ picks:

Round 1/7 — Kevin White, WR, 6-3, 215, West Virginia

A replacement for Brandon Marshall, his 4.35-second 40-yard dash speed makes him the lid-lifting receiver the Bears have lacked when defenses cheated up in tighter zone or man coverage. He’s athletic enough to go up for the ball, but played only two years in an offense that left him a lot of leeway in terms of running tight routes. So he’ll have to prove he can be a more precise route runner. A breakaway threat because of his speed, he isn’t known for owning flashy downfield moves.

Round 2/39 — Eddie Goldman, NT, 6-4, 336, Florida State

A team planning to play a 3-4 was doing it without a real nose tackle until this selection. Although Goldman can play end as well, he is a natural nose tackle who should be on the field on first and second downs but probably not in passing situations. Although he came out as a junior, at the very least he should split time at nose with Jeremiah Ratliff. Quick into a gap, he also can overpower blockers and occupy double teams. “He’s strong, he gets off blocks, I really like the pad level he plays with,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “He steps up in big moments. Up at the Clemson game this year, there’s three game-changing plays he makes to basically win that game for Florida State. This is a stout, strong nose tackle that anchors the middle of your defense. I think he’s an ascending player.”

Round 3/71 – Hroniss Grasu, C, 6-3, 297, Oregon

Although he can play guard in a pinch, he’s viewed as competition for Will Montgomery for the starting center position and long term the future leader of the offensive line. A four-year starter, he played on the same line with Bears guard Kyle Long. Many Oregon offensive linemen have gone on to succeed out of their offensive system, and Grasu looks to be next. He had to make fast adjustments on the line prior to snaps in the no-huddle offense, so he’s brains as much as brawn. The Bears like his quickness and ability to help after the snap or to get out and lead on a screen. “The standout traits for this guy is his quickness and his balance,” Pace said. “He’s excellent at the second level. He’s quick on reach blocks. His makeup is outstanding. When you talk about work ethic, team captain, leadership, all those traits that we stress around here, he brings those to the table.”

Round 4/106 – Jeremy Langford, RB, 6-1, 208, Michigan State

With Matt Forte missing minicamp and wanting a contract extension, the Bears could be looking long term with this one. Langford has a running style not unlike Forte’s. He had the combine’s fastest 40 time for backs (4.43) and is an adept cut-back runner, but lacks ability to break tackles or be a power back. He is far above average at picking up blitzes while pass blocking and at sliding out of the backfield as a receiver. This isn’t a back along the lines of the power type coach John Fox has often had in the past. The plan eventually is to use him in a two- or three-back rotation.

Round 5/142 – Adrian Amos, FS, 6-0, 218, Penn State

A free safety known more as a center-fielder type than an enforcer. He has been criticized for being soft in run support, although he is a willing tackler. He just isn’t overly effective at it. But no one doubts his coverage skills, as he’s been a cornerback in the past in addition to playing safety. One impressive statistic about his pass coverage ability beyond seven career interceptions was he allowed only 3.9 yards per time targeted as a senior.

Round 6/183 – Tayo Fabuluje, T, 6-7, 360, Texas Christian

Massive, high-character Nigerian native who figures as a right tackle mauler type. He has a constant battle going on with his weight. Fabuluje took a year off school to support his sister when his mother was sentenced to prison time on theft charges. His father had been deported more than a decade earlier. He worked three jobs during his year away from football to help his family, but returned to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors. He started out at BYU before transferring before the 2011 season.


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