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Bears remain in conversations with Vic Fangio, move closer to signing others

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio became a free agent Tuesday.

The Bears woke up Wednesday morning feeling optimistic about their chances of retaining defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Yet he wasn’t announced as the first member of new head coach Matt Nagy’s staff. That honor went to former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.

Still, both Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace continued to speak to Fangio about returning to run the defense, which improved in each of his three seasons and was ranked in the top 10 this year in points and yards allowed.

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Speaking on the team’s “Bears All Access” show on WSCR-AM (670) on Wednesday night, Pace described those talks as an ongoing process and reiterated his respect for Fangio. Nagy was somewhat limited in the amount of time he could spend on his staff Tuesday, Pace said, because of the responsibilities that came with his introduction. On Wednesday, the coach dug deeper into potential coaches.

Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is a strong candidate to return to the Bears in the same role, a source confirmed. He was an assistant special teams coach with the Bears from 2008-10.

Fangio, who became a free agent Tuesday, is a priority. Pace made him the first person interviewed for the Bears’ head coaching job last week, and later made it clear that he valued his expertise.

The Bears figure to be interested in retaining other members of their defensive staff. All four of John Fox’ assistants to take jobs elsewhere have come from the offensive side of the ball. On Wednesday, former receivers coach Zach Azzanni took the same job with the Broncos, where he’ll join running backs coach Curtis Modkins. The Sporting News reported that the Bears were zeroing in on Texans running backs coach Charles London to take his place.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com