By Dan Bernstein– senior columnist

(CBS) Keep to the rallying cry for your 2017 Chicago Bears:  “Probably not as hurt as last year.”

That seems to be all they have when it comes to real optimism in year three of whatever John Fox is supposed to be doing by now. It wasn’t exactly an inspirational opening day, with Fox and general manager Ryan Pace saying they were excited without really sounding like they meant it.

When asked Wednesday what area of the team was a clear strength, Fox wandered into a discussion of the tight end position, describing a Division-II rookie, a mid-level free-agent signing, an oft-injured 32-year-old and another guy nobody in Chicago would recognize by either name or appearance. Eventually, Pace stepped in to the answer and brought up the defensive front seven instead, perhaps understanding what Fox’s response signaled about the overall quality of the roster.

They kept insisting that there’s no competition at quarterback, even while noting that it’s the most important position on the field and that there would be positional battles elsewhere. They seem to like Mike Glennon more than most others do.

But their real pride was in the changes they made to their practice scheduling and use of technology to reduce the injuries that crippled them last year. Pace opened his remarks by stating his optimism that the team wouldn’t have to start camp by placing anyone on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Nine hours later, the Bears announced that linebacker Pernell McPhee was being placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.