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Israel Idonije to play Grand Marshall for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race

Israel Idonije will be the Grand Marshall for the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Israel Idonije will be the Grand Marshal for Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I’m honored to be a part of the pre-race ceremonies for the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend,” said Idonije. “To say the coveted words ‘drivers start your engines’ is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to taking in all the racing action this Saturday.”

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Bears might be forced to relocate training camp

The Bears have called Bourbonnais home for the last nine summers.

For the last nine years, the Chicago Bears have called Bourbonnais, IL, and Olivet Nazarene University, their summer home for training camp.

That streak may end this year due to the lockout.

The Bears signed an extension last year to keep training camp in Bourbonnais for the next two summers but if the lockout remains unresolved–and ultimately postpones the start of training camp–the Bears will have to find another location to host training camp.

Student orientation at Olivet Nazarene University begins on August 27th and the Bears would have to be cleared out so the students can settle in.

Jay Cutler snubbed in NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2011

With the NFL lockout still very much real, NFL Network is doing everything in their power to keep hope for the 2011 season alive.

The series “The Top 100 Players of 2011,” which is voted on by NFL players, is in full swing on NFL Network and four Chicago Bears have made the list.

Jay Cutler did not make the cut for "The Top 100 Players of 2011"

Lance Briggs has been the only Bear announced–at No. 92–since the program kicked off and has counted down the Top 51 players already. This means that three more Bears are on the list and I think it’s safe to say that we know who those players are.

Brian Urlacher, Devin Hester, Julius Peppers all surely have made the Top 50.

More to note, we know who got snubbed from the list: one Jay Cutler.

One has to assume that Cutler’s controversial benching in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers had something to do with this.

This is a list voted on by the players–those same players that questioned Cutler’s toughness for not returning to the game.

Cutler has seen his share of controversy since coming to Chicago two years ago but he has given a Bears franchise hope for an offense with a reputation that is downright ugly.

Behind a shoddy offensive line–in which he endured 56 sacks–and playing so-so receivers, Cutler had a great year for the Bears in guiding them to their first postseason berth since their 2006 Super Bowl appearance.

He missed just one game–after sustaining a concussion the previous game in which he was sacked nine times by the New York Giants–and led the Bears to an 11-5 record and the NFC North Championship. He passed for 3,274 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and added 232 rushing yards.

And yet the criticism will keep on coming.

Everyone loves to hate Jay Cutler, as evidenced by his snubbing by his fellow players.

Lance Briggs makes list of NFL’s top 100 players of 2011

Lance Briggs ranks at no. 92 in The Top 100 Players of 2011.

Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs was voted to a list of the top 100 players in the NFL of 2011 at number 92 in a poll conducted by NFL Network where current league players cast their votes.

Briggs was presented in the segment by current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

Watch Patrick Willis talk about why Briggs is one of the best linebackers in the league.

Briggs was elected to his six consecutive Pro Bowl last season, becoming just the sixth player in Bears history to do so.

“The position he plays is very demanding,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli told ChicagoBears.com. “It’s a playmaking position and that’s all Lance has always done. He makes plays and has great instincts. He’s always ready to play, and he’s a performer.”

There are four more Bears players left in the Top 100.

Be sure to check out The Top 100 Players of 2011 every Sunday night at 8 p.m. on NFL Network.

Here’s the list of The Top 100 so far:

100.D. McNabb Redskins, QB
99.C. Clifton Packers, OT
98.D. McFadden Raiders, RB
97.S. Phillips Chargers, DE
96.N. Collins Packers, S
95.J. Beason Panthers, LB
94.F. Gore 49ers, RB
93.E. Berry Chiefs, S
92.L. Briggs Bears, LB
91.T. Owens Bengals, WR
90.J. Flacco Ravens, QB
89.A. Wilson Cardinals, S
88.V. Davis 49ers, TE
87.J. Gross Panthers, OT
86.J. Freeman Buccaneers, QB
85.J. Babin Titans, DE
84.J. Cribbs Browns, QB
83.M. Williams Buccaneers, WR
82.L. Woodley Steelers, LB
81. B. Raji Packers, DT

Bears rookies assigned jersey numbers

Rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi will don No. 72

Three members of the 2011 Chicago Bears rookie class have been assigned jersey numbers.

Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com announced in his ChalkTalk that top pick offensive tackle Gabe Carimi will wear No. 72, defensive tackle Stephen Paea will wear No. 92 and safety Chris Conte will wear No. 47.

The jersey numbers for quarterback Nathan Enderle and linebacker J.T. Thomas are not yet known.

Ravens want compensation after botched trade attempt in NFL Draft

The Bears drafted Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle with the fourth round selection that would have gone to the Baltimore Ravens had the trade gone through.

In case you forgot, the Chicago Bears attempted a trade with the Baltimore Ravens during the first round of the NFL draft so they might move up a couple of spots to secure current Bears rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.

With Jerry Angelo running things is it really any surprise that this went astray?

But it you look at it, Angelo’s failure to go through with the trade actually saved the Bears their fourth round draft selection (Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle). So Chicago is certainly satisfied.

Baltimore is not but there’s not really much they or the NFL can do about it.

“The trade was not consummated,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail. “Therefore, there was no trade.

“Anything further with respect to it would be between the clubs.”

The Ravens feel like the Bears should compensate them for the pick that they lost with the failed trade attempt.

“I’m disappointed in the Bears and the McCaskeys,”  Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told the Baltimore Sun. “It is, in my opinion, a deviation from their great legacy. They concluded that their heartfelt and admirable apology was sufficient for our loss.

“All of us at the Ravens strongly disagree.”

But Chicago isn’t budging and doesn’t see fault in how the situation played itself out.

“We spoke to the Ravens about it, and we spoke to the league about it,” said George McCaskey. “We made a mistake. We apologized for it. The bottom line, as I understand it, the Ravens got the player they were wanting, and we got the player we were wanting.”

Can’t we all just get along and move on?

Report: Dave Duerson had brain damage when he committed suicide

Dave Duerson had brain damage when he committed suicide in February.

There is a report coming out of Boston University that says former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson had a brain disease that is associated with repeated concussions back when he committed suicide in February.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the BU School of Medicine announced on Monday afternoon that Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same disease found in at least 20 other deceased NFL players.

The Bears safety shot himself in the chest back on Feb. 18 and left a note requesting that his brain be donated to research. Duerson was just 50.

Bears players react to Osama Bin Laden’s death

After 11 o’clock last night, President Barack Obama announced in a televised address to the nation that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

“Tonight I can report to the American people and the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said during brief remarks at the White House.

His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding, according to U.S. intelligence. After a firefight, a small team of American forces killed bin Laden and took possession of his body, the president said. Source

The news sent jubilation around the United States, including the Chicago Bears organization.

Here’s what some Bears had to say:

Rod Wilson: “What kills me is when something good or historical happens, you still have something negative to say.”

Chris Harris: “Big shout-out to the troops; the men and women who put countless hours, days and years into this mission. God Bless you, and to all the fallen troops, RIP.”

Devin Hester: “Is it me or is it really hard to believe Osama bin Laden is dead?”

Today is indeed a great day to be an American.

Bears address defense on Day 2 of NFL Draft

After addressing an offensive concern with the selection of offensive tackle Gabe Carimi with the 29th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears’ focus shifted to defense in rounds two and three.

The Bears selected defensive tackle Stephen Paea in the second round.

The Bears selected defensuve tackle Stephen Paea in the second round with the 53rd overall selection.

Jerry Angelo pulled off an uncharacteristic move to get the defensive tackle out of Oregon State. He traded up.

Unlike the non-trade gone wrong with Baltimore on day one, there was confusion with the trade with Washington.

Chicago moved up nine spots in the draft, dealing their second and fourth round picks to the Redskins in exchange.

“We’re real excited about selecting him with this pick,” said Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell. “We had an opportunity to work with the Redskins to get up. We thought there were a couple chances for him to go in the next few picks and we did not want to risk that, so we got him.”

Ruskell said that Bears coaches and scouts all preferred Paea to other defensive tackles on the board.

Paea is the real deal, according to the Bears. They admire his technique, his versatility and his quickness off the ball.

Paea is excited to join a storied franchise, and defense, in the Bears.

“I want to say I am blessed to be in this process,” Paea said. “All I know is it takes one team to love me and I feel like the Chicago Bears were the right team for me.

“I see the Chicago Bears playing the same type of defense that I love. It’s the attacking defense and that is what I have been playing at Oregon State. We have a similar type of defense and I was just blessed to get picked by a 4-3 scheme defense and of course Rod Marinelli in there. I am just blessed to be in that organization.”

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NFL players get the OK to return to work

The lockout was lifted--as temporary as it might be--and players were allowed to return to team facilities.

There has been significant progress over the last few days in regards to the NFL lockout.

U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson essentially ended the lockout Monday and also denied the NFL’s request for a temporary stay Wednesday.

Now, the league has told teams to open their facilities to players starting today.

With this also comes news of the impending period of free agency, trades and other roster moves to begin shortly.

All in all, things are slowly but surely starting to get back to normal.

Many Bears players are expected to head over to Halas Hall today to use the weight room and to work out, with more players expected by Monday. Players will also be able to talk with coaches and sit in on film sessions, after two months of not being able to even acknowledge one another.

How far we have come.

Even more exciting, the Bears will begin their offseason conditioning program on May 9.

I am so ready for some football. Even if it’s just offseason workouts.

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