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McCaskey: Bears will monitor Soldier Field closely, but no turf

Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey is rebuffing his players' call for a switch to artificial turf at Soldier Field.

McCaskey told the *Chicago Sun-Times* on Monday that the team would be more proactive in monitoring turf conditions, but said the organization remains committed to a grass surface.

"Our primary concern is player safety," McCaskey said. "We want to prolong careers. We want our guys to be available on a week-to-week basis. The evaluation is ongoing. Every year we take a look at it. Our considered opinion is that right now the best surface for our team, primarily considering player safety, is a natural-grass field."

Bears players called for a switch to an artificial playing surface at Soldier Field after Friday's "Family Fest" practice at the stadium was canceled due to dried-out sod. Chicago Park District officials failed to put enough water on three-and-a-half-week-old sod, causing the seams to buckle.

Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher was one player urging the team to go to an artificial surface.

"I don't understand why they don't have FieldTurf, yet," Urlacher said. "We're a fast team. We play fast on FieldTurf. The injury issues aren't as bad as they used to be (with artificial turf). They've gone down a lot in the last few years with the way they made the turf and stuff. So I don't understand it.

"Use our speed. You know we can run. Let us go out there and run."

McCaskey said team officials would take more initiative.

"The (Chicago) Park District has already said that it was a miscalculation on their part, that they need to do a better job, and we need to do a better job, take an active role in monitoring their treatment of the field," he said. "It needs to be a collaborative effort. And we're confident it's going to be."

The Bears play their preseason opener Saturday at Soldier Field against the Buffalo Bills. McCaskey said he visited the stadium Sunday and didn't have any concerns.

In other Bears news, the man who clinched the Indianapolis Colts' Super Bowl victory against Chicago in 2007 might wind up in a Bears uniform in 2011. Free-agent cornerback Kelvin Hayden, a Chicago native, visited the Bears on Monday, according to the Sun-Times.

The Colts released Hayden because of his $43 million contract. He was set to make $6 million this season with a salary-cap number of $9 million.

If he's signed by the Bears, he would compete with Zack Bowman and Tim Jennings.

"I think Kelvin brings that kind of intensity to a team," Jennings told the Sun-Times. "He's a competitor, and if they feel like that's the kind of move they need to make this team better, then it's a great move." Also Monday, the Bears waived quarterback Matt Gutierrez and running back Dan Dierking.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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