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Bears looking to land players who fit similar profile

Bears GM Ryan Poles

Under new general manager Ryan Poles, the Bears will be seeking players in free agency and the draft who possess the same characteristics.

"It's guys that are passionate about football," Poles said last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "They're about the team. They want to win. They're motivated. They have a purpose. They're tough, they're physical. All those things we're looking for."

Poles and his staff have already started to identify draft prospects who meet those criteria. And while the Bears hope to select some of them in the April 28-30 draft, they'll also continue to monitor those chosen by other teams in case the players eventually become free agents.

"If you've identified those with Bears fits and that shows up years from now, that sticks with you," Poles said. "And obviously through the seasons and watching football and talking and gathering information, you'll know if that Bears fit truly stayed with them all the way through."

The Bears have five picks in the draft: their own selections in Rounds 2, 3, 5 and 6 and an additional fifth-rounder they obtained in a trade that sent receiver Anthony Miller to the Texans. The Bears dealt their first- and fourth-round picks to the Giants last April to move up nine spots in the first round to choose quarterback Justin Fields at No. 11. They also sent their seventh-round selection to the Texans in the Miller trade.

Acquiring players who are considered "Bears fits" will help Poles accomplish one of his main objectives, which is to "raise the standard" throughout the organization. It's a goal he's emphasized since being hired as GM in January.

"It's doing things the right way, which oftentimes is hard," Poles said. "It's hard to do things the right way."

A major factor in raising the standard will be getting every player on the roster in optimal football shape.

"We're going to take body fat and weight really seriously and it's going to be held to a certain standard," Poles said, "because we know if we get guys to follow that, and once they see that, they're going to perform better. They're going to play better for us as a team and they're going to be more successful as an individual."

Assisting players in that area will be Brent Salazar, who was hired by the Bears Feb. 15 as their Clyde Emrich Director of High Performance. Salazar will oversee the team's strength and conditioning and sport science departments and work with the athletic training staff with the goal of maximizing player health, safety and performance. The position is named after Clyde Emrich, a pioneering strength coach who passed away last November after working for the Bears for 50 years.

Salazar arrives in Chicago with more than 10 years of strength and conditioning experience in the NFL with the Broncos, Chiefs and Vikings. He spent the past two years at Kitman Labs as a performance strategist and was the director of performance at the United States Tennis Association from 2017-20. His duties at the USTA included oversight of the Player Development's Strength and Conditioning team and he was responsible for optimizing the support that the USTA provides to American players.

Three days after adding Salazar, the Bears hired Jim Arthur as their head strength and conditioning coach. Arthur previously worked for the Bears from 2005-15 as strength and conditioning coach (2008-14) and assistant strength and conditioning coach (2005-07, 2015). During his tenure, the Bears won three division championships and one conference title. Arthur spent the last six seasons as Dolphins assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Before Salazar or Arthur get to work with them, potential future Bears are vetted by the team's scouts, who develop comprehensive profiles of them both as players and people.

"It comes to character-gathering, information-gathering on the players we're looking at," Poles said. "We need to know everything so we're prepared. When those players come into the building, we can make sure they're taught the right way, the nutrition is set up the right way and our coaches are aware of how they learn best.

"It just comes down to setting in stone what we want and then following through on that."

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