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The Bears Den: February 11, 2014 - Chicago Bears offseason news & notes

Jay Cutler was palpably more comfortable with his blindside protection this season.

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2013 FA review: Jermon Bushrod - Michael C. Wright: While Bushrod didn’t play horribly in 2013, he needs to play at the level he’s being paid: as an elite pass-protector.

2014 Bears outlook: Running backs - Moon Mullin: Forte remained the central figure in the offense other than Cutler, but Bush’s future in Chicago is in doubt without a significant pay cut.

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Free-agent spotlight: Charles Tillman - Kevin Fishbain: Emery could offer Tillman a team-friendly, one- or two-year contract, which would force Peanut to choose to test the open market or stay in Chicago.

Tillman: It wouldn't be awkward to team with Calvin Johnson on Lions - Dave Birkett: Tillman is a big reason Johnson has averaged just 58.3 yards receiving per game against the Bears the last two years. Against every other team in the NFL in that span, Johnson has averaged 124 yards receiving per game.

Jerry Angelo calls Cutler "Inconsistent" in QB rankings - (James Neveau) [No word on what Cutler calls Angelo in GM rankings - Den]

Martellus Bennett makes noise with new mixtape - On Friday the Bears TE released a 17 track Hip-Hop mixtape entitled "Year of the Orange Dinosaur" for download.

Ex-Bear news - Dan Hanzus: Gabe Carimi released by Buccaneers; Lovie Smith, now the coach of the Bucs, apparently saw enough to know Carimi wasn't part of Tampa Bay's future.

Bears won Super Bowl XLI... in the Republic of Georgia - Why do people in Georgia (the country) believe Rex Grossman and the Bears won Super Bowl XLI over Peyton Manning's Colts?

Sun-Times Bears section here.

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Michael Sam

Bears GM praises Michael Sam - Larry Mayer: One day after NFL draft prospect Michael Sam revealed that he is gay, Phil Emery praised how the Missouri LB handled the landmark announcement.

Coming out a liberating move for Michael Sam - Brendon Ayanbadejo: Following in the footsteps of those who blazed a trail before him, Michael Sam joins a list of active athletes to come out as gay. Now the question: Will he be judged for what he does on the field rather than off it?

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Could the Bears select Michael Sam? [KAPCON: 5]

Should Michael Sam's announcement be this big of a deal? - Moon Mullin: Sometimes an issued statement, like the NFL's in support of Michael Sam, is the small step available at the moment. It doesn’t fix anything, but it says what will or won’t be acceptable, and that’s a step in the right direction.

Michael Sam, the Bears and gay-challenged NFL - Steve Rosenbloom: SEC player's brave announcement prompts thought of Lance Briggs tweets and the NFL's anti-gay episodes. Roger Goodell, your league is on the clock.

Not everyone will welcome Michael Sam into NFL - David Haugh: Forget Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney. The most significant player in this year's draft is Michael Sam because no matter when his phone rings, it will be history calling.

Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Packers - Rob Demovsky: Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme remains, but tweaks are coming after the Packers' defense slipped from 2nd and 5th early on, to 25th and 32nd in yards allowed, over his tenure as DC.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Tom Silverstein: Drafting philosophy leaves Packers far under salary cap, but maybe passivity in free agency is a reason they have not risen to the top of the NFC since winning Super Bowl XLV.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein: Lions’ decision on whether to pursue re-signing Brandon Pettigrew one of the biggest left for them after choosing to bring back Dominic Raiola on a one-year deal.

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Brian Hall: Vikings GM and coach Mike Zimmer weren't surprised Matt Cassel opted out of the final year of his contract, but aren't ruling out possibility that he could return to Minnesota.