Dolphins, Bears, and Broncos headline the first day of the NFL Combine

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INDIANAPOLIS – He was one of the first to the podium on Thursday morning-and there was good reason for that.

Joe Philbin’s Dolphins have been at the center of one of the most controversial stories in the NFL this decade-the bullying accusations of offensive lineman Richie Incognito towards his teammate Jonathan Martin and others. It resulted in a lengthy and damaging independent report by Ted Wells along with the firing of a trainer and an assistant coach.

That’s why Philbin didn’t waste anytime getting started with talking about the subject, opening his news conference at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium with a lengthy statement.

“We’re gonna do things about it. We’re gonna make it better,” said Philbin with a loud and stern voice to a swell of media. “We’re going to uncover every stone and we’re going to have a better workplace.”

Philbin continued with the strong talk throughout his 15-minute media session as he took ultimate responsibility for what happened with Incognito. Philbin was asked if he felt his job was in danger following the Wells Report but he declined to comment-instead continuing to stress that the Dolphins will clean up their issues internally.

Still the coach did express a bit of regret for not catching that actions quicker.

“There is a common decency that people need to have towards one another and when that gets violated, that’s an issue,” said Philbin. “I certainly wished I could have seen some of it and I could have intervened quicker and perhaps it would not have grown to this proportion.

“But it’s easy to look back. That’s how it unfolded and so now you have to focus on the future.”

BEARS KEEP TO THE PROCESS

The first season of the Marc Trestman era of Bears football was one that feature a glimmer of promise yet the reality that inconsistencies still exist on the field as they did often under previous head coach Lovie Smith.

Trestman didn’t shy away from that face when he met with reporters on the Thursday morning, emphasising on more than one occasion the need for the franchise to move forward at its own pace.

“We know where we are because we know where we left off,” said Trestman, whose Bears finished last season 8-8 yet played Green Bay in the final game of the season with a chance to clinch the NFC North title. “We feel we’re competitive but we want to get better just like everyone else. That’s our focus now.”

Where that begins for the Bears is, oddly enough, on the defensive end of the football. In a complete reversal of the Smith era, the Bears defense finished 30th in the NFL in yards allowed while allowing just under 30 points a game. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was retained despite the struggles as the team added defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni to the mix in hopes of bolstering their 4-3 defense.

That doesn’t mean the Bears will necessarily focus their draft just on the defensive end as the squad looks towards improving collectively.

“I think the status of our team impacts who were are looking for,” said general manager Phil Emery. “We want to improve as a team. We are in this to win championships so everyone we look at its ‘Can the impact our team in a positive way? Can they contribute to championships’

“That filter is the same for our veteran players as our young players.”

Fox expects Manning back strong

Before Super Bowl XLVIII, there was talk that Peyton Manning may decide to hang it up if he could come up with the second title of his NFL career.

After all, he was coming off a season where he threw for 5,477 yards and an NFL-record 55 touchdowns in helping the Broncos to dominate the AFC for a majority of the season.

That pretty much ended when Manning’s season ended with a dud against the Seahawks at Met Life Stadium in the Super Bowl. Unlikely to leave the league after such a performance, Broncos head coach John Fox expects the quarterback to be ready to go for his 16th playing season in the NFL.

“I know he had a very,very productive year. Maybe the most productive season in history,” said Fox of Manning’s being effective moving forward. “I’d say it looks pretty good for him moving forward.”

But can he top what he did in 2014 and get the Broncos in position to get to another Super Bowl? We’ll he will have offensive lineman Ryan Clady back from injury along with the returning services of Wes Welker. Eric Decker is a free agent and Fox isn’t sure what will come of the team’s free agents-but he is sure what Peyton will do.

“Peyton has a program for everything,” said Fox of the quarterback’s offseason workout routine. “He’s in his program right now. “One guy I don’t worry about in the off-season is him.”