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Coaches Bill O’Brien, Jim Harbaugh laud EIU’s Jimmy Garoppolo

Updated: March 25, 2014 11:59PM



ORLANDO, Fla. — The rave reviews keep pouring in for Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

“First of all, [he’s] a class act,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said, “a really good kid. He’s smart.”

“Impressive, very impressive,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh and O’Brien familiarized themselves with Garoppolo, a Rolling Meadows graduate, when he was invited to Northwestern’s pro day earlier this month.

“He went through some tough times at Eastern there, where they were 2-9 two years ago, then kind of turned it around,” O’Brien said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “He was a big part of that.

“He’s got a quick release. He’s athletic. I really enjoyed talking football with him. He’s a great kid.”

A potential scenario to consider is the Texans and O’Brien passing on a quarterback with the first overall selection in the draft in May and taking Garoppolo with the first pick of the second round.

O’Brien definitely has a feel for successful quarterbacks, having worked with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for years before leaving for Penn State in 2012.

Then again, some pundits contend Garoppolo won’t last past the first round.

“All teams are going to look at him as a potential player for their team,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a good player.”

Happy camper

Bears chairman George McCaskey said more than once that he’s not involved in player-personnel decisions, but he was thrilled when cornerback Charles Tillman re-signed because he’s a big “Peanut” fan.

Tillman signed on for his 12th season with the Bears earlier this month. He got a one-year deal worth $2.75 million guaranteed. It includes a $500,000 signing bonus, up to $150,000 in incentives and $25,000-per-game roster bonuses.

“As a fan, I’m thrilled that Charles is coming back,” McCaskey said. “[He’s] a terrific person, great on the field, great in the locker room, great in the building and great in the community.

“We’re so proud of him that he was the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient.”

Peppers’ Pack attack

Packers coach Mike McCarthy revealed some of Green Bay’s plans for former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers during a lunch with Wisconsin reporters.

Peppers, who signed a three-year deal ($8.5 million in the first year) with the Packers after being cut by the Bears, will assume their “elephant” position. He will be used as a defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker.

“That’s the big-picture outlook for the way we’ll use Julius defensively,” McCarthy told reporters.

After Peppers played more than 81 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps in 2013, McCarthy indicated that his playing time will decrease, which might help his production.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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