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New Broncos Players Boost Defense

February 14, 2000

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) _ Cornerback Thomas Smith is ready to cover opposing teams’ top receivers for the Chicago Bears.

``Corner is a hot position. You’re out there on an island,″ said Smith, who had a career-high 64 tackles from his right corner position last season for the Buffalo Bills. ``As long as I do my job, then I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.″

Over the weekend, the Bears signed Smith and defensive end Phillip Daniels, the team’s top two free agent prospects _ players they hope will shore up one of the NFL’s worst defenses.

The pair signed the two largest free-agent contracts in franchise history. But with a defense that ranked 29th in the league overall last season and allowed more than 350 yards per game, the Bears were willing to spend the money.

Daniels agreed Saturday to a five-year contract worth $25 million, including an $8 million signing bonus. On Sunday, Smith signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract.

``It was a tremendous weekend,″ coach Dick Jauron said. ``We’re significantly better on defense. Both are young players who we feel are in their prime. It’s a huge addition for us.″

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