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Smith says addition of Marshall, Bush will improve Bears

Sunshine has not been difficult to find at the oceanfront site of the

NFL

owners meetings, but

Lovie Smith

brought more of it Wednesday in a breakfast with the media.

The

Bears

coach was particularly optimistic about the addition of wide receiver

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Brandon Marshall
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.

"I thought Chicago Bear football, he would be a perfect mesh," Smith said. "I know what he can do catching the ball. I'm talking about a big, physical presence, blocking. When I met him, right away, he (hugged me). To me, he was a perfect fit."

Asked about Marshall's off-the-field issues, Smith said, "If there was a big concern, we wouldn't have made the trade. We feel comfortable. We feel comfortable with our locker room. We checked out Brandon Marshall."

Smith said Marshall is versatile enough to play all three receiver spots but indicated he likely would play only split end, at least initially.

That has been

Johnny Knox

's place. While Smith said he has no idea when Knox will be able to return from back surgery, he did allow that Marshall's presence will mean reduced roles for others.

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"When you go into the No. 1 position, it affects everybody," he said. "Everyone bumps down one."

Smith said he thought Knox could play elsewhere, however.

"As a wide receiver you want a guy to be able to beat a corner," Smith said. "Unless you are playing a guy in the slot an awful lot, that's where it's different. We have to get these guys on the field and let them tell us exactly where they need to be."

Added to the mix Wednesday was

Giants

receiver

Devin Thomas

, who agreed to a one-year deal.

Knox likely will play less in 2012. But

Devin Hester

's role on offense could increase.

Smith said one of the disappointments from last season was not utilizing the returner better as a receiver.

"We've been trying to get this happy medium, this perfect play time," Smith said. "We're going to continue to look for ways because he's special."

Smith addressed a number of other topics. Among them:

*Smith wouldn't mind going to camp with his current offensive linemen. He expressed confidence in left tackle

J'Marcus Webb

, who allowed 14 sacks last season.

"I don't want to picture it that we are looking for a left tackle," Smith said. "We feel comfortable with (Webb and

Gabe Carimi

). ... We like (what) we have right now. (But) we are always, right up until almost the opening game, (looking for) somebody we think can improve us."

In addressing Webb's inconsistency, Smith said, "You can look at the situation sometimes and anybody in the league can look bad. There are things you have to do to help them out, which we plan to do."

Smith said Carimi is likely to start camp at right tackle, but did not rule out a shift to the left side.

He also said

Chris Williams

could move back to tackle, but he probably could make a better case for him at guard.

*He is excited about where new coordinator

Mike Tice

is taking the offense.

"We'll consistently see what we want to be a little bit more than occasionally," Smith said.

Smith said his and Tice's philosophy mesh. But he also said he and

Mike Martz

were on the same page when he hired Martz, who left in January.

"I wanted (Martz)," he said. "I knew what he would bring to the table. (But) given our personnel, we need to get back where we belong."

*He isn't too concerned about

Matt Forte

's contract stalemate.

Smith pointed out Forte has not missed any team functions.

"I look at offseason as time to negotiate," Smith said. "You do it different ways. He doesn't feel good about his contract situation. He voiced that. It's no more than that. I don't make too big a deal out of it."

Smith believes the Bears are better at running back.

He said

Michael Bush

will bring more to the Bears than

Marion Barber

did because Bush can help the team more outside the tackles and in the passing game.

"Michael is a complete running back," Smith said.

Adding Bush wasn't necessarily because the team did not want to promote

Kahlil Bell

to be the No. 2 back.

"But wouldn't we be even stronger with Kahlil here and Bush?" Smith said. "It's strength in numbers as much as anything."

Smith did acknowledge Bell's fumbling is a concern.

"We've seen what he can do with the ball when it's secured, now he has to secure it more often," Smith said.

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