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Read Options: Pernell McPhee still vital part of Bears’ future

Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP).

Adam L. Jahns’ “Read Options” column appears in Chicago Football Weekly, which is available Thursday or Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Rockford Register Star, Northwest Herald, Kankakee Daily Journal, Peoria Journal Star and on ProFootballWeekly.com.

Telling outside linebacker Pernell McPhee that he couldn’t play in the first six weeks because his left knee isn’t where it needs to be couldn’t have been easy.

“Man, you guys know his personality,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said this week. “He’s a passionate guy. He gets emotional.”

The Bears undoubtedly will miss McPhee’s persona, passion and emotion as he remains on the physically unable to perform list to start the 2016 season. He can’t play until Week 7 at the earliest.

McPhee’s absence doesn’t look good for all involved. He underwent surgery that was said to be minor in February and then missed the entire offseason program, training camp and the preseason. The six regular-season games he’ll miss are salt poured on an open wound.

Why didn’t the Bears shutdown McPhee last season? (They lost four of their final five games and his knee issue emerged mid-season).

What did the Ravens know about McPhee that the Bears possibly missed? (The Ravens never let their most valuable players leave in free agency).

Did the Bears make a mistake in signing him to a lucrative five-year contract?

For now, the answer is no.

Let’s see what happens.

The Bears have completely revamped their health and training programs under Pace, a fitness freak himself. For the first time ever, the Bears have a full-time nutritionist. Pace and coach John Fox want to be cutting edge when it comes to health technology.

McPhee needs to buy in to what the Bears want to do with him off the field as much as on it. Knowing McPhee, who was voted a captain last season, he already has. His fitness and weight start with him.

In other words, give the Bears time to work with McPhee, who turns 28 in December. See what happens on the field when McPhee returns later this season and then what happens next season. He’s still considered an important part of the Bears’ future.

“He’s a leader on our team, whether he’s playing right now or not,” Pace said. “I think he feels, obviously as a leader, my voice carries more impact when I’m out there playing and that bothers them. But that time’s going to come. He’s so powerful as a person.”

***

Pace and Fox deserve more credit for signing veteran guard Josh Sitton than they’re getting. Players of Sitton’s caliber (a three-time Pro Bowl player) and age (he turned 30 this summer) typically look for the best opportunity to win.

That’s win – right now.

The Bears clearly are rebuilding, leaving Pace and Fox to sell him on what’s ahead.
It surely helped to have plenty of money available, but an effective sales pitch still was required.

Pace provides the vision and honesty. Fox has the charm, charisma and experience. Together, they make a formidable and respectable duo.

Pace and Fox successfully pitched Sitton as they did veteran defensive end Akiem Hicks, who turned down the Patriots and a phone pitch from coach Bill Belichick.

***

Forget about superstar end J.J. Watt for a second.

What is Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins going to do against the Bears’ secondary?

The Bears better hope that Tracy Porter, Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan are healthy enough for the challenge.