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Bears’ Dave Toub looking for a few good men on special teams

Shane Toub is sBears special teams coach Dave Toub. |  Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Shane Toub is the son of Bears special teams coach Dave Toub. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: November 2, 2011 5:42PM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — It’s preseason for most at Bears training camp. But it’s recruiting season for special-teams coach Dave Toub.

Toub has made his mark as one of the most respected special-teams coaches in the NFL by getting good athletes to buy into the importance of the coverage and kicking units — whether they’re reserves who think they should be starting on offense or
defense or young players fighting for a roster spot.

The state of flux caused by the lockout has left Toub with a lot more work to do this season and less time to do it. On the eve of training camp, Toub had none of the top six special-teams tacklers back from last season.

Corey Graham, who led the Bears with 25 special-teams tackles last year, signed on Friday. Former Northern Illinois wide receiver Sam Hurd, who led the Cowboys in special-teams tackles the last two seasons, also signed with the Bears on Friday. And Brian Iwuh, who was third with 18 tackles last year, signed Monday.

But Toub still has several holes to fill. Those are golden opportunities for rookies.

‘‘Lovie [Smith] does a great job of talking about how important special teams are for us as a philosophy first,’’ Toub said, ‘‘and then he tells them, ‘You’ve got a chance to make the team if you can be a good special-teams player.’

‘‘It’s been done throughout the years in our history. We have a lot of [roster] spots that are going to be open for special-teams players.’’

But Toub isn’t just looking for rookies to fill those spots. He’d like to get defensive tackle Vernon Gholston on special teams. Gholston, the No. 6 pick of the 2008 draft, was cut by the New York Jets after three unproductive seasons in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense.

‘‘Obviously, it’s going to be a change in mentality for him,’’ Toub said. ‘‘He’s been ‘The Guy.’ It’s a totally different mind-set being a special-teams player.’’

But Gholston might not be such a hard sell. He played special teams as a Jets rookie. And last year, he restructured his five-year, $40 million rookie contract to give himself a better chance to get significant playing time.

That sounds like Toub’s kind of guy. Whether they’re rookies or veterans, much of special teams is attitude.

‘‘That’s right,’’ Toub said. ‘‘It’s a different mentality. You try to manage people. That’s what coaching is — trying to get the most out of your players, convincing them that they can be that guy.’’

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