Five things we learned from Bears assistant coaches Wednesday:
They don’t need Anthony Miller.
The receiver’s decision to fight Saints instigator C.J. Gardner-Johnson — and get ejected from a playoff game — seemed to seal his departure, with even chairman George McCaskey expressing his frustration. But Miller hasn’t been traded yet, and he’s attending the Bears’ virtual meetings.
“He’s growing up, you know,” receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “He’s maturing. He’s understanding all the things that we’ve talked about really for the last couple years.”
The Bears have been frustrated by his lack of focus and precision for years. What makes Furrey believe Miller can change this time?
“I haven’t yet,” Furrey said. “You know, you’ve got to see it. … There’s so much talk, but at this level it’s all about what you show and what you put on film.”
Competition from Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd and draft pick Dazz Newsome makes Miller replaceable.
“It’s not going to be a ‘need’ base,” Furrey said. “You know, we don’t need you. We’ve got guys that are going to be able to produce. You better be a pro, you better be on your details, you better do what we’re asking you to do.”
They’re not surprised by Jimmy Graham’s return.
Tight ends coach Clancy Barone said that “there was never any curiosity” whether Graham would return for the second season of his two-year, $16 million deal. He might have been the only one, as Graham seemed like a cap casualty candidate.
“He’s invaluable,” Barone said.
Barone praised Graham’s conditioning and leadership. He led the Bears in touchdowns last year.
“The thing also with Jimmy — he’s a great culture guy for the locker room, and he gets it,” he said. “He’s a guy a lot of people lean on ... and listen to. And so trying to build that great culture in the locker room, Jimmy is a guy that I think is part of that foundation.”
They’re prepared for an attendance drop.
After first demanding an all-virtual offseason because of the coronavirus, the NFLPA encouraged its players to skip organized team activity practices, which are technically voluntary but usually well-attended. A NFLPA statement attributed to Bears players said they’d skip OTAs starting May 25, but it’s unclear how many will show up.
“The goal is, as it is every year, to hope that a lot of guys come and participate in the voluntary portion of the program,” defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “And then when you’re on the field it’s to get good, detailed work.”
They’re not worried about Allen Robinson’s focus.
Robinson signed a franchise tag tender that will pay him $18 million this season. The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal but have been unable to find common ground for almost a year and a half.
Robinson is frustrated but has been professional.
“He’s been great,” Furrey said. “He’s had great communication with all of our guys. Him and I haven’t skipped a beat in regards to our communication.
“Somebody asked me the other day: ‘Are you worried about Allen Robinson?’ I said, ‘Listen, I’ve told you guys 100 times how big of a pro he is.’ And that has not changed one bit in regards to the situation that we’re in right now with him.”
They’ve reached out to Tarik Cohen.
Tyrell Cohen, the fraternal twin brother of the Bears’ running back, was found dead Sunday morning after trying to climb a power substation in North Carolina.
New running backs coach Michael Pitre was one of many to reach out to him.
“Just letting him know that we’re here to support him in whatever him and his family needs,” Pitre said. “And I think that’s the most important thing for him right now, is understanding that we’re here, have his back and give him and his family the time they need to grieve.”