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Bears begin offseason program

After a hiatus of nearly four months, Bears players returned to Halas Hall en masse Tuesday for the start of the team's voluntary offseason program.

"It's great to have everybody back," said coach Marc Trestman. "The offseason goes by so fast. Everybody's excited to be back. We've got guys who really love football around here and I think they're excited to get back with their old teammates and to meet their new ones."

Chicago Bears players returned to Halas Hall Tuesday to begin voluntary offseason workouts.

The first day of the offseason program began with a brief team meeting led by Trestman and his staff at 7:30 a.m. followed by weight-lifting and conditioning.

"I'm sure it's been boring for a lot of people because a lot of guys go their own way in the offseason," said kicker Robbie Gould. "So it's like the first day of school all over again.

"I think the first day went really well. Guys were working hard. We had a really long workout today. All in all, I think everyone's enthusiastic about being back and we're excited to get back to make a run hopefully to the Super Bowl."

During the first two weeks of the program, activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehab, with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field with players.

"We just put the schedule out there for them to make sure everybody knows what to do and what we're trying to accomplish in the first two weeks of our offseason program, which is to get stronger, get faster and get more explosive," Trestman said.

"And then introduce the three phases of our football to a certain degree to get us started. We don't have a lot of meeting time, but we have enough to get us started."

Introductions were necessary Tuesday given the number of new players in the locker room. Since the start of free agency March 11, the Bears have added about a dozen players from other teams.

Newcomers include defensive ends Jared Allen (Vikings), Lamarr Houston (Raiders), Willie Young (Lions) and Israel Idonije (Lions); safeties Ryan Mundy (Giants), M.D. Jennings (Packers) and Danny McCray (Cowboys); receivers Domenik Hixon (Panthers), Josh Bellamy (Redskins) and Josh Morgan (Redskins); linebacker Jordan Senn (Panthers) and center Brian de la Puente (Saints).

With an explosive record-breaking offense joining a revamped defense, Bears players are confident the team can rebound from last year's 8-8 season and contend for a championship in 2014.

"No doubt whatsoever," said cornerback Tim Jennings. "That's the reason why I wanted to come back and a lot of guys wanted to come back. We've seen the offense make a complete [180], so I'm excited about that aspect of the game. But as a defense, I see us doing a lot of great things. There's no doubt in the world that we can be a contender this year, and that's our goal."  

Last season the Bears offense set single-season team records for total yards, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage, passer rating and first downs.

"What we did last year is the foundation, but it's not given," said center Roberto Garza. "We have to go out there and earn it. It's about going out there and being better than what we did last year."

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