Bears tackling expectations head on

BOURBONNAIS -- While Chicago Bears first-year general manager Phil Emery talked methodically about Phase I and Phase II of the transition period; joked about the upgrade in housing from when he was an area scout, complete with couch and easy chair; and reflected on an offseason that may even give him the right to sit back in that easy chair; Lovie Smith stepped into the hot white glare of expectation Tuesday.

Entering the last year of his contract and given a roster heading into training camp that everyone, including his players, is saying is of Super Bowl quality, Smith does not have the luxury to talk about Phase I, Phase II or least of all, furniture.

But just when you expected Smith, in his usual stoic manner, to do his usual job of deflecting what everyone really wants to know, he actually heaped even more of a burden on his team in his opening press conference under the gazebo at Olivet Nazarene University.

"As we look at our roster coming into camp," Smith said, "it looks about as good as it has since I've been here. We realize that, we embrace that. We have a good football team. . . . "

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