PHOENIX – Bears coach John Fox spent more than an hour Wednesday discussing his new team during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was undoubtedly a main topic. But Fox also offered his first looks at other key players. Here are some highlights:
WR Alshon Jeffery
When asked if Jeffery could be a No. 1 receiver, Fox revealed that the Bears will change their approach to weight-lifting and offseason conditioning.
Fox didn’t offer specifics, but said Jeffery appeared “a little bit overweight” at times in his career and that the workout changes will help him.
“He’s obviously a beast as far as his size, how he can separate,” said Fox, who liked Jeffery as a draft prospect in 2012.
Fox also said that Jeffery seemed “a little nicked” last year with injuries and that the Bears’ new training methods would help prevent soft-tissue injuries.
RB Matt Forte
Fox has relied on multiple backs and said “creating a wave” at the position has its benefits. But Fox doesn’t know whom the other Bears’ backs could be.
Fox, though, is ready to rely on Forte, who is in a contract year, and doesn’t envision his skills diminishing with age.
“I thought he had a productive year last year more so as a receiver than as a runner,” Fox said. “But that is a dimension important to the success of any offense.”
DE Jared Allen
Fox briefly met with Allen in Phoenix and said there are reasons why Allen was unproductive in 2014, starting with his bout with pneumonia.
Allen will try outside linebacker in the Bears’ 3-4 defense, and Fox is optimistic.
“He can be one of those guys that makes a big jump,” he said.
CB Tim Jennings
Fox believes Jennings can play inside at nickel back or outside at cornerback, but said it’s obvious that Jennings is coming off a disappointing season.
“I think Tim will tell you the same thing,” Fox said. “Our biggest thing is to get him to perform better than he did a year ago.”
LB Shea McClellin
McClellin seemingly has a fan in Fox, who liked his potential in the 2012 draft.
“It hasn’t gone as well for him as far as position fit,” Fox said. “In fairness to him, that’s not to be judgmental on anybody else, but the transition is we’re going to start him inside because it’s a harder position to learn as far as run fits and how they set in there.”
CB Kyle Fuller
The Bears’ first-round pick in 2014, Fuller was high on Fox’s draft board in Denver for his instincts and physical skills.
“We held him in high regard, thought he was an outstanding football player,” Fox said. “He’s a guy that we’re excited about, have a good grade on.”
S Antrel Rolle
Fox believes the Bears signed a productive veteran who plays fast and understands the game. Rolle also will be leaned on as a leader.
“I’ve seen him at the Pro Bowl even show leadership, which sometimes even in that game you need it,” Fox joked.
DTs Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton
Fox said the second-year defensive tackles “didn’t stand out quite as much as Kyle Fuller” in the 2014 draft.
LB Mason Foster, DE Jarvis Jenkins
With Foster and Jenkins signed to one-year contracts, Fox hopes he’s getting players with something to prove. He wouldn’t say how they fit in his defensive plans, only saying that they will compete at their respective positions.