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Smith clarifies earlier comments on Orton
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/14/2009 12:02 AM

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Lovie Smith on Tuesday tried to clear up the discrepancy between his and GM Jerry Angelo's postseason comments on quarterback Kyle Orton.

Shortly after the end of the regular season, Angelo seemed to categorize an upgrade at the quarterback position as Job One in the off-season, while Smith expressed satisfaction with Orton's performance.

"I don't think Jerry said that our No. 1 priority was (improving the quarterback position)," Smith said. "Jerry (said) he needed to see more from Kyle. You heard my statements, (offensive coordinator) Ron Turner's, and Jerry's saying the same thing. We like what Kyle was able to do this past year. I think our quarterback position is in the best shape it's been in going into the off-season. I'm excited about Kyle having a chance to go into the off-season as a No. 1 quarterback, getting a chance to work with the receivers, taking the majority of the reps.

"But there's a good chance that (unrestricted free agent) Rex Grossman won't be with us next year. Rex has other options. I think Jerry was probably talking about that, of bringing in another quarterback. We don't want it to sound like we don't have faith in Kyle. It's the complete opposite. I have a lot of faith in him and what he can do for our team."

But Smith said the Bears wouldn't necessarily be content to bring in a backup to replace Grossman, even though that was his role last season.

"Every job we have is a job where you come in and you have a chance to compete," Smith said. "We start off from scratch every year. That's what I'm saying now. As we bring a guy in, you don't look for guys that have backup-type physical ability. You're looking for guys with starter-type ability with every man on your 53-man roster, and that's what we'll do at all positions. Quarterback is no different."