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Chicago Bears request to interview Colts' Bruce Arians

With Lovie Smith sent packing, the Chicago Bears have begun their search for a new head coach.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that the Bears put in an interview request to speak with Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, according to a source with knowledge of the coach's situation.

The Bears are the first team to request a meeting with Arians, but he's forbidden to interview before Sunday's wild-card game between the Colts and Baltimore Ravens.

Rapoport reported the San Diego Chargers also have shown interest in Arians, and more teams are expected to come calling. Arians has emerged as a viable NFL Coach of the Year candidate after guiding the Colts to a playoff berth while head coach Chuck Pagano battled acute promyelocytic leukemia. Pagano returned to the team last week.

Arians, incidentally, missed Thursday's practice with a bad case of the flu. Rapoport reported Arians spent time with doctors and hoped it would clear up by now. Several Colts players caught the bug this week, but Arians is expected back with the team for Friday's light workout and should be fine for Sunday's contest. Much of the game plan already is installed.

UPDATE: Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck was asked Wednesday what he would tell other teams inquiring about Arians. Luck smiled and didn't hesitate to say, "Terrible things. Terrible, terrible things."

We get the feeling Luck doesn't want to lose his coordinator after only one season.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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