Bears Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka was at Halas Hall on Tuesday for what was believed to be the first time since he was fired after a 5-11 season in 1992.
"Iron Mike" was back at the behest of Bears coach Marc Trestman -- and "Da Coach" addressed the team at the conclusion of Tuesday's practice.
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"I reached out to Coach Ditka when I got the job," Trestman said. "I thought that was a great place to start, somebody who knew as much about the Bears and the tradition of the Bears as he does. It turned out to be dinner with our wives, and then I called him last week with the idea for him to come by and see the new facility and spend some time with our players and say hello to them, and he graciously agreed to do that."
Ditka's short speech to the players touched on the importance of relationships with teammates and camaraderie, while downplaying the significance of money and salaries.
"He echoed a lot of the same things that Marc says every day," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "There is a common thread between guys that have been there and done it and won championships and know what it is all about -- enjoying the game, respecting your teammates, taking advantage of each and every day. That's what Marc tells us. That's what a lot of the great ones tell us. That's what Coach Ditka said as well."
Ditka did not, however, chat with the media.
"No," he said when asked to talk. "It's just like it was in 1989, when you ran me out of town."
Ditka's Bears went 6-10 in 1989 after five straight trips to the playoffs, and they went back to the postseason the following two seasons with identical 11-5 records, before the '92 meltdown.
Getting good advice:
Because of the calf injury in late July that still has veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams sidelined, rookie Jonathan Bostic is learning on the job as a starter in Bears coordinator Mel Tucker's defense.
But the second-round pick from Florida has the advantage of working with a couple of coaches on the field in 11th-year weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs and seventh-year strong-side linebacker James Anderson.
"I would think it would help a lot," Tucker said of the veteran presence. There's not a whole lot they haven't seen. And they're very unselfish guys, so they're willing to help a guy out.
"That's the main thing when you have veteran guys who are actually willing to invest the time in a younger guy and explain to him from a player's perspective, 'Hey this is what's going on. This is what you should read. This is what you did wrong.' Sometimes Lance and those guys are correcting the young guys before the coaches can even get to them, which is great and that's the way it has to be in a game too."
Practice makes perfect:
Jay Cutler took the blame for the ill-advised interception he threw into double coverage in Thursday's preseason game against the Chargers, but coach Marc Trestman said he could help his quarterbacks avoid those situations.
"It wasn't a play that was a go-to play," Trestman said of the deep post to Brandon Marshall. "It was a play that we have been working on, and I can help him with getting more opportunities to run that play in practice so he could feel more confident executing it.
"That certainly can't happen in the regular season. We have to do everything we can to avoid that."
In the running:
Undrafted rookie Michael Ford's 100-yard kickoff return gave him a boost in his battle to win the No. 3 running back spot, but it's still a competition with Armando Allen and Curtis Brinkley.
"It would be tough not to like what you saw in a Michael Ford," said Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. "He did a great job. On his long one, that wasn't one of the better-blocked returns that we had all night. He made a guy miss right in the hole. He did a better job on coverage, too. So he's making it tough (to decide). He's doing a good job of what we need to see from him, that's for sure."
Running back Armando Allen (hamstring) returned to practice.
But wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (right knee), defensive tackle Corvey Irvin (left ankle), running back Harvey Unga (ribs), quarterback Matt Blanchard (left hand), long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (ribs) and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring) remain sidelined.