suntimes
SPRIGHTLY 
Weather Updates

Four downs with Ditka

St. Louis Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam jogs next drill during team's NFL football rookie camp  Friday May

St. Louis Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam jogs to the next drill during the team's NFL football rookie camp Friday, May 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) ORG XMIT: MOJR104

storyidforme: 66442082
tmspicid: 23733198
fileheaderid: 11624204
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: June 23, 2014 11:42AM



1. With the combine, the draft and all the analysis now done, what will the Bears coaches look for in rookie minicamp? What do they want to see in the players they have deemed to be their future?

The coaches have done their homework and watched all the film on these guys. Now they are looking for how they adapt to what the Bears are doing. They have to fit them in to the way the Bears play their system on offense and defense. What happens now, it’s more or less an educational system for these players to understand they have to play in a certain system that’ll likely be different than the one they played in college.

2. No running back was taken in the first round of the draft last year. This year, no running back was selected in the first two rounds. Are the days of having an elite, featured running back over?

The game has evolved now to where it’s more of a passing game, and teams look at the running back as not being that instrumental. But I know this: If you don’t have a good one, you have a problem. I know we had a good one in Walter Payton, who was the greatest one I have ever seen. All the great teams over the years, except for the Patriots, usually had a pretty good running back — the Steelers, Cowboys, Rams. The good teams have always had a bell cow running back. I don’t know why teams are suddenly going away from this. It’s probably because they feel it’s a position they can get lower in the draft.

I always felt if the guy was there and if we had the right grade on him, we would take him. So, you might ask, what happened in New Orleans [when the Ditka-coached Saints took Ricky Williams]? Well, we needed a player we could market down there. That’s why we went after Ricky. Was it right? Probably not, considering what we gave up. No, we gave up too many draft picks. But I really felt he could help put us on the map, because he was a good football player. Would I do it again? No, I probably wouldn’t. But I don’t regret doing it because at that time, those other draft picks we gave up weren’t going to help us anyway.

3. The Bears used a sixth-round pick to take a punter, Pat O’Donnell. That’s rare these days. Good or bad move?

I don’t see any problem with that. Here’s why they did it, I think: They didn’t have anyone else on their board that really jumped out at them. And they wanted a punter because they needed one for competition and they don’t have one. I think you have to be realistic at that point of the draft and say, ‘How many of those guys will really make your team?’ A few do, but it’s not a high percentage. I don’t see any problem with taking a punter at that point.

4. Do you think Michael Sam, because of his sexual orientation, was drafted any differently?

Look, if a guy is a good football player — and I assume he is; he had a pretty good track record at Missouri — you would think that people would have taken him earlier. So now, when you get to that point in the draft and [Rams coach] Jeff [Fisher] sees him sitting there, and he knows he has talent, and he knows he has the ability to rush the passer and everything else, he jumps up and takes him. You have to look at it this way: Either Jeff got a steal, or the rest of the teams dropped him for other reasons.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.