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Bears GM: Too soon for contract talks

Bears coach Lovie Smith watches play during the second half of the Bears' 41-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla.
Bears coach Lovie Smith watches play during the second half of the Bears' 41-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla.

LAKE FOREST – Bears general manager Phil Emery is a happy man these days.

That doesn’t mean Emery is in a hurry to hand out millions to Lovie Smith.

Emery spoke with reporters Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

He praised Smith and his players for winning four of their first five games but dismissed a recent radio report that the organization had started negotiating a possible multi-year extension with Smith, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the 2013 season.

When asked to shed light on the report, Emery didn’t hesitate to shoot it down.

“That’s an interesting word, light, because I kind of took that lighthearted when I heard it,” said Emery, who has spent the past several weeks scouting college players at midweek practices and weekend games in preparation for next year’s draft. “I said, ‘Geez, even if that was true, when would we have gotten that done?’ …

“There’s not enough hours in the day to have those kind of conversations.”

Smith has posted a 75-58 regular-season record since he was hired in 2004, and this season he is pursuing his fourth playoff bid in nine years on the lakefront. He has the full support of ownership and has established firm job security in a high-turnover position.

It’s just that Emery would rather discuss contract issues during the offseason.

“My preference is to do these things at the end of the year,” Emery said. “There may be a situation where it’s to the club’s advantage and the player’s advantage to do something during the season, but my preference and most often that’s better to wait until the end of the year until you have a full evaluation in moving forward with that. That applies not only to our players but to our head coach and our coaching staff.”

Emery also shared insight on several other topics related to the Bears.

• On Jay Cutler’s sideline antics involving J’Marcus Webb and Mike Tice

“To me, it’s a family. I know some people are going to say, ‘Well, that’s cliché.’ It’s not really. A team is very much a family. The analogies are very much the same. And family is something everybody can relate to. …

“To me, the important thing of family when I consider my own family and when I look at the team is, at the end of the day, are we all going in the same direction in a positive way? Do we have a passion for one another? Are we allowing each other to move towards excellence? Are we there to help one another? True love and understanding for each other? And do we have a commitment towards moving forward?

“In each one of those ways, when I look at Jay Cutler, the answer is yes. He’s a passionate player. He has great drive and energy. He’s moving towards excellence. He does care and love his teammates. And he’s a big part of what we’re doing and the positive things that we’re doing.”

• On Brian Urlacher

“What I see on the field is a great communicator. I definitely sense that having gone through the preseason, when he’s not in there and when he is there, this guy has a tremendous role in terms of the communicating of our defense and making it all fit together. And I think he’s doing an outstanding job with that. …

“From a physical aspect, I do see a guy that’s gotten better each week working back through the injury.”

• On whether Brandon Marshall has been as good as advertised

“I think that’s evident just through his play and his numbers and his statistics. But way beyond what he’s provided for us in terms of offensive firepower is the person that Brandon is, the leadership he’s provided on our field. …

“If you watch him on a daily basis on what he does as a professional, going out there to improve himself and to make others around him better, it is a sight to see.”

• On whether the Bears will add a wide receiver with Alshon Jeffery injured

“We feel very good about our wide receiver depth. We added a player to our practice squad to make sure that we were in a good, competitive situation for practice to continue to improve and that’s where we’re at right now with that.”

Bears bits: On Wednesday, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named as the NFC defensive player of the week. Tillman returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown and registered three tackles Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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