AL HAMNIK: Bears take the quick path to a promising season

2014-05-12T17:30:00Z 2014-10-06T22:43:11Z AL HAMNIK: Bears take the quick path to a promising seasonAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 12, 2014 5:30 pm  • 

Good character is like intelligence. You can't fake it.

But when there's an emphasis on winning, character sometimes can be overlooked, downplayed.

The Bulls did it with Dennis Rodman and won three NBA championships. The Cubs did it with Milton Bradley and regret it to this day.

Remember the Bears' Tank Johnson and Sam Hurd?

With the 2014 NFL draft now history, some teams still have questions about the players it took. Not their ability, but can they stay on the right path and not embarrass the franchise.

The Bears have two red flags in Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, a fourth-round pick, and undrafted free agent linebacker Christian Jones of Florida State.

Carey comes with the most baggage.

In December of 2012, he was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic violence incident with his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend (charges were later dropped).

In January of 2013, he was kicked out of a UCLA-UA basketball game at McKale Center following an altercation with a campus security officer. As a result, he was suspended for the ’season-opener and did not start the second game.

Carey appeared in 12 games and surpassed 100 yards rushing in all 12, extending his overall streak to 16 games -- longest in Pac-12 history.

"Yeah, we did our homework," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "We knew we wanted to go the extra mile to have clarity in our mind. I see us all as unique people but we have a common path which is called 'imperfection' and we're always trying to work back towards center.

"The most important thing is, are you trying to get back on the path and go the right way? Are you trying to improve as a person?"

Carey's college stats made it difficult to ignore him, despite run-ins with the law and school officials. I'm sure Emery and coach Marc Trestman see him as the heir apparent to an aging Matt Forte.

Carey piled up 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground from 2012-13, ranking among the nation's most prolific while averaging 26 carries per game the last two seasons.

Forget he had been removed from some draft boards for off-the-field transgressions. Trestman begins his second season and the Bears are taking an all-or-nothing approach as the window is slowly closing on several veterans.

"We got ourselves a heckuva football player. He loves football. He's passionate about it. He's tough. He's all-purpose," Emery said of Carey.

As for character?

"Off the field, that's something I can't control," Carey said. "But it's something I can learn from and improve on and grow as a young man."

You can't control allegedly attacking your pregnant ex-girlfriend?

"It's in the past," Carey said during his conference call. "It's something you just have to learn from and go through it. You don't go through it, you won't learn from the experience so you don't make the same mistakes.

"I feel like we'll be OK."

It's all about your NFL career, right? Give me a break.

Christian Jones was projected as a fourth-round pick until it was reported he had flunked a drug test at the combine, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He also was suspended a game in 2013 because of an unspecified violation of team rules.

It appears the "right path" will have some heavy foot traffic this season.

This column solely represent the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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