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Bears begin voluntary offseason program

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First-year coach Matt Eberflus and his staff will begin working with players Monday when the Bears kick off their voluntary offseason program at Halas Hall.

The past couple months, Eberflus met with his assistant coaches to discuss a development plan for every player on the Bears roster.

"I went and sat for 45 minutes to an hour with each coach and talked to them about what's the plan for each guy because that's what matters," Eberflus said. "You develop the players this time of year. Where's this guy at in his skill set and where does he need to be in nine weeks?

"And I'll meet with them at the end, too. I always talk to them during the course of the [program]. But first week to nine weeks, what does it look like? How do we improve? What were the drills we did to help that player? What do we do in practice [and] meetings and all that to help him develop his skill set?"

During the first two weeks of the offseason program—known as Phase 1— activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehab, with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field with players. Helmets are prohibited, and footballs are permitted on the field only for quarterbacks throwing to receivers provided they are not covered by other players.

Coaches and players can meet in classrooms for the first time, however—and the Bears will take advantage of that opportunity as soon as they are permitted to do so.

NFL teams with new head coaches are allowed to begin their offseason programs Monday, two weeks before clubs with returning coaches. Of the 10 teams with new head coaches, only the Bears, Saints, Giants and Dolphins are starting Monday. The others—the Buccaneers, Saints, Vikings, Jaguars, Raiders and Texans—will begin next Monday, April 11.

Clubs with new head coaches also may conduct an additional volunteer minicamp, which the Bears will do April 19-21, a week before the NFL Draft.

Their rookie minicamp will be May 6-8, the weekend following the draft. The Bears will then hold nine OTA practices May 16, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26 and June 6, 7 and 9. The offseason program will conclude with a mandatory full-squad minicamp June 14-16.

Under terms of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, offseason programs consist of three phases.

In the second phase, which will take place over three weeks, all coaches will be allowed on the field. Workouts may include individual player instruction and drills, but helmets and drills pitting the offense against the defense are prohibited.

The third phase, which will be conducted over four weeks, may include up to 10 days of organized team activity (OTA) workouts. All coaches are permitted on the field and players may wear helmets, but one-on-one drills involving the offense and defense are not allowed.

Live contact is prohibited in all offseason workouts; and (excluding OTAs and minicamp) players may not be at the club facility for more than four hours per day, four days per week, on weekends, or on the field for more than 90 minutes per day.

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