GM Ryan Poles faces new challenges as Chicago Bears training camp opens: 'There's something new literally every day'

Thirty minutes into the Chicago Bears’ first training camp news conference on Tuesday, Ryan Poles’ serious facade turned into a smile and a laugh when a reporter suggested the GM surely should be more excited than he was. showed his expression.

For the record, the Poles, hitherto rather secretive in media settings, are happy to open his first camp as general manager of the Bears when practices start on Wednesday. He already felt the buzz at Halas Hall on Tuesday, according to the players. He looks forward to the moments, perhaps weeks from now, when units begin to gel and personalities emerge.

“I love seeing guys develop on the road,” he said. “They may be somewhere at the bottom of the depth chart and they’re getting ready to shock the starters, and it’s one of the best things to watch.”

So yes, Poles is excited, but he’s also a first-year GM who’s had to face a number of challenges in recent months, from linebacker Roquan Smith informed intention not to participate in the practices during contract negotiations for rookie safety Jaquan Brisker’s protracted contract talks to a trio of player arrests.

The problems are nothing extraordinary. General managers deal with player holds, contract disputes and legal issues every year. But it was still an eventful first offseason for the Poles, whose bulges have sometimes caused as much of a stir as their calculated free-agent additions.

“You have to take one thing at a time,” Poles said. “That is part of this job. There’s something new literally every day, there’s something thrown at you and you have to make decisions, you have to be with your team, you have to talk about things and you want to do what’s best for the Bears at the end of the day.

“I feel like it’s going well. Once again, there will be more things on the way and we will continue to work on them.”

The list of issues on which journalists pressed the Poles on Tuesday began with Smith.

The Bears general manager refused to address Status of the practice and the Smith contract.

“I don’t know what their intentions are,” Poles said. “I know that he has registered (to the camp). And we’re going to take it from there and collect information and take it one step at a time. That’s all I can do.”

Point runner Robert Quinn, who skipped organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, was also in the building. The Poles said Quinn has not approached him with a trade request despite speculation to the contrary. But it’s unclear if Quinn will practice Wednesday.

“I hope he wants to be here, so nothing has changed on that front,” Poles said.

However, Brisker has been signed and is ready to practice after waiting to arrive until his rookie contract was completed.

“I gave him a big hug when I saw him, and I’m excited for him and the direction he’s going,” Poles said of safety.

The Poles also had to address the off-season arrests of wide receiver Byron Pringle. for reckless driving with suspended licensewide receiver David Moore for possession of a controlled substance and illegal carrying of weapons and linebacker Matt Adams for illegal possession of firearms.

“As a manager, it bothered me a lot,” Poles said. “Any time your phone goes off and there’s a problem, you need to take responsibility. It’s on my watch. So he absolutely pissed me off. … I had conversations about how I felt about it. We collect information and take it through the process and handle it in the way that I think is right.”

The Poles said he has been leaning on his “team” to navigate the tide of challenges, which earlier this offseason also included physical failures and decision not to sign defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobiwho would have been the Poles’ prized free-agent acquisition.

“I’ve got a bunch of really good people up there,” Poles said. “The very conversations of the draft don’t change when we get into this situation. Got together. We talk about it. And we try to figure out what is the best route to put the organization in the best situation”.

Amid all that, the Poles have also continued to try to build the Bears’ roster around second-year quarterback Justin Fields, including addressing questions about the wide receiver and offensive line.

The Poles said they like the traits of new wide receiver N’Keal Harry and the desire to prove himself after an unsuccessful tenure with the New England Patriots. prompted trade to Chicago for a 2024 seventh-round draft pick. But the Poles also mentioned continuing to look for playmakers for an offensive group with few proven stars.

And think veterans Riley Reiff Y michael schofield he’ll fit in with the offensive line competition with his athleticism, quickness, toughness and intelligence.

“If everyone is competing, we are going to get the best out of that unit,” he said.

It’s been several years since Poles, who spent his previous 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, entered training camp with a team as uncertain as he was in his first rebuilding season with the Bears.

So while he still talked about the usual lofty goals GMs have in the heat of summer — to be the best version of themselves, go after the division, make the playoffs, win the Super Bowl — he also acknowledged the necessary steps. to be a team that can chase them down.

“There was a journey to get to where you don’t have (to seek) answers,” Poles said of his time with the Chiefs. “I was a part of it. You are relentless in trying to improve the football team by bringing in the right players and making sure the guys are in a position to be successful as well.”

Some days, that journey can be exciting. And in others, the Poles will have a whole list of challenges to analyze.

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