DITKA STAYS: Bears Coach Mike Ditka, the subject of retirement speculation, will be prowling the sidelines for at least three more years.
"We worked it out in a matter of minutes," Chicago President Mike McCaskey said of the new deal, reportedly worth about $1 million a year. "We don't believe in agents. We worked it out man to man and face to face."
Ditka, Chicago's coach since 1982, was absent from the announcement. He's on vacation. . . .
The Packers hired Purdue's strength and conditioning coach, Russell Riederer, 33, to a similar position.
SCOUTS' HONOR: The NFL's annual scouting combine at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis begins today. It's a five-day assembly line of physicals, interviews and drills that are closed to the public, media and agents. There will be about 460 college players, including, for the first time, those who forfeited their remaining college eligibility in hopes of being drafted April 21-22.
Last year, there were no underclassmen there. But Colts QB Jeff George, then a junior at Illinois, worked out for Indianapolis and other teams weeks later and ended up being the top draft pick.
Jack Bushofsky, the Colts' player personnel director, said this year's talent pool offers "no franchise guys that are going to step in and take somebody to the Super Bowl. There are several legitimate first-round draft picks who can give competitive teams some immediate help."
Right now, the top prospects include Notre Dame CB Todd Lyght and LB Michael Stonebreaker, Colorado LB Alfred Williams and OL Joe Garten, Miami DT Russell Maryland, Tennessee WR Carl Pickens, Syracuse C John Flannery, Michigan S Tripp Welborne and Florida LB Huey Richardson.
Among the 29 undergraduates is Notre Dame WR-KR Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, who is the front-runner to be the top pick. Also included is Eric Swann, a 312-pound defensive lineman who never attended college.
Swann, 20, spent last season playing for the minor league Bay State Titans in Lynn, Mass. He was to attend North Carolina State but failed to qualify in eight attempts at the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
NFL scouts, though, are impressed that he's 6 feet 4 and 312 pounds -- with 4.75-second time in the 40-yard dash. . . .
Steelers DE Keith Willis is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. Willis, 31, had bone chips removed Monday.