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Bears’ GM search down to Chiefs’ Phil Emery, Patriots’ Jason Licht

Updated: February 25, 2012 8:21AM

MOBILE, Ala. — The Bears whittled their list of five general-manager candidates to two, and they’ll conduct a second round of interviews with Phil Emery of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jason Licht of the New England Patriots later this week at Halas Hall.

Eliminated from contention were Marc Ross of the New York Giants, Jimmy Raye of the San Diego Chargers and Tim Ruskell, the Bears’ director of player personnel.

The Bears were free to interview Emery at any time. But they needed written permission from the Patriots to interview Licht again because New England will play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 against the Giants in Indianapolis.

Ruskell’s elimination puts him in a compromising position. It’s believed he still has at least another year on his contract, but now he’s at the mercy of Licht or Emery.

And they might go a more traditional route, hiring a college and a pro director instead of one to oversee both. Ruskell was hired by former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo in April 2010.

In the second round of interviews, the Bears will have to flesh out each man’s plans.

For instance, given his familiarity with the Bears and some of the scouts on the staff, Emery might not be as inclined to make massive changes to a scouting department that is fairly well-respected.

Licht, meanwhile, could insist on an overhaul, implementing new scouts and systems he picked up while in Philadelphia, Arizona and New England.

Tice stays

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will not interview for the Oakland Raiders’ head-coaching vacancy, the team announced Monday night.

The Raiders are moving into a second phase without him.

Tice was promoted from offensive line coach after the Bears parted ways with Mike Martz.

Tice staying put is a big break for the Bears with the pool of potential coaches quickly drying up.

Also, he ensures the most seamless transition for the players, especially quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler is on his third offensive coordinator with the Bears, but Tice is expected to make his transition much smoother.

He will put an emphasis on the running game but empower Cutler to throw downfield passes.

The key, of course, is to bolster the Bears’ corps of receivers.

Peppers to Pro Bowl

Defensive end Julius Peppers will head to the Pro Bowl a seventh time as a replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants.

In his two seasons with the Bears, Peppers has been selected to the Pro Bowl each time.

New attorneys for Hurd

Former Bears receiver Sam Hurd has replaced his California-based lawyers with ones from Texas.

Hurd, 26, hired Michael McCrum of San Antonio and Jay Ethington of Dallas, according to the Associated Press.

Hurd said he would plead not guilty to charges that he tried to buy large quantities of cocaine and marijuana, according to a Monday court filing by his new attorneys.

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