Bears coach happy with draft picks at rookie camp

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — After the NFL draft, Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo estimated six of the team’s nine draft picks could make the team’s final roster.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — After the NFL draft, Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo estimated six of the team’s nine draft picks could make the team’s final roster. Coach Lovie Smith had a higher opinion after getting a closer look at those players in a three-day rookie minicamp that ended Sunday. He liked them all. "I’m trying to figure out what three Jerry didn’t like," Smith said. "Really, as you look at our draft, it was a good draft. All of the players we drafted, I think, bring something to the table. They have a chance." At the very least, Smith saw talent enough to push current roster players when full-squad, non-contact practices begin later this month. Coaches liked the athletic ability of defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert, the Bears’ third-round pick and their first overall. Gilbert, meanwhile, was impressed with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. "He just really polished up some basic techniques and talked to me about stepping through in my pass rush, and hands," Gilbert said. Areas that could remain a problem going into training camp include backup quarterback and starting safety. The Bears have no one with an NFL start backing up recently acquired quarterback Jay Cutler. Second-year quarterback Caleb Hanie is the backup, and former Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez is the third-stringer. At rookie camp, Northwestern’s C.J. Bacher, Missouri’s Chase Patton and Florida State’s Drew Weatherford all had tryouts, but Smith said it’s uncertain if the team will pursue another veteran backup or go with three quarterbacks at training camp instead of the customary four. "We’ll continue to look up guys right up until we can’t, but…we feel comfortable with the three guys we have right now," Smith said. The Bears may not have enough practice snaps to go around if they bring in a fourth quarterback. "When you have a new player coming in like Jay Cutler, Jay will want the majority of the reps (plays in practice)," Smith said. "Caleb Hanie, as a young player, needs quite a few reps." Their free safety situation will remain entirely unsettled with free agent acquisition Josh Bullocks, nickel back Danieal Manning, second-year player Craig Steltz and possibly sixth-round draft pick Al Afalava competing for the spot. ______ In photo: Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, top, watches rookie players stretch during NFL football minicamp at Halas Hall, Saturday, May 2, 2009, in Lake Forest, Ill.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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