White Sox

Amid turmoil, Panthers look to ground game


Amid turmoil, Panthers look to ground game

Limping into Sundays contest against the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers will try to establish the run. Carolina finished the 2011 season ranked third in the NFL in rushing, but that production has failed to show up this season as the Panthers rushing attack has slipped to 17th in the league.

Following the firing of general manager Marty Hurney on Monday, many changes are expected throughout the organization. One blogger for the Charlotte Observer, Joseph Person, believes that the Panthers are in the process of recreating their offense based on last weeks personnel packages.

This likely coincides with the Panthers shift from the zone read package to more reliance on a power running game," Person writes. "Based on last weeks game against Dallas- when power-running Jonathan Stewart received the bulk of the work its clear the Panthers are trying to re-create themselves offensively.

While the Panthers have been underwhelming on offense, the team has shown positive signs of things to come defensively. First-round draft pick (ninth overall) Luke Kuechly has exceeded expectations. Originally slated to play outside linebacker, an injury to Jon Beason forced the Panthers to move the former Boston College standout to middle linebacker. The results have been outstanding, as pointed out by Ron Green Jr. of the Observer.

In his two games at middle linebacker, Kuechly has accumulated 34 tackles, 21 of them solo takedowns, wrote Green Jr. Thats reminiscent of the numbers he put up at Boston College, where he became the NCAAs second all-time leading tackler despite leaving after his junior season.

Carolinas defense will have their hands full on the road against the new-look Chicago Bears. In order to succeed, Kuechly and company will need to keep the Bears offense at bay to make up for Chicagos stingy defense that has allowed the fewest points in the NFL through six games.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball


White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.

Zach LaVine cleared for contact practice

Zach LaVine cleared for contact practice

The Zach LaVine comeback is one step closer as the shooting guard was cleared for contact practice after checking with his doctors in California. 

LaVine will go through a step by step process over the next few weeks and the Bulls will gauge his progress to see when the best time for his return will be. 

But, given the nine-month process from his ACL injury he suffered in February, he's right on track and there doesn't appear to be any setbacks. 

"There’s no real timeframe, I guess," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said at practice Monday. "It’s really going to be on how he feels. We’ll try to do a little more every day with him. We did a little bit, got him some light contact today just to get the process started.

"He’ll be able to play a little two-on-two with not a lot of practice time these next 10 days. But we’ll throw him out there and continue to try to get him feeling better. There’s going to be a mental hurdle that he’s going to have to clear as well. I know he’s excited. His teammates are excited and the coaches are obviously excited as well."

LaVine's recovery has gone as planned since his arrival in Chicago from the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night. Targeting a mid-December return seems realistic but of course, the Bulls will take every precaution to make sure he's healthy for the long term, both for LaVine and the franchise, as he's a restricted free agent this summer--and they have no plans on letting him walk. 

LaVine told NBC Sports Chicago recently that he wants to get on the floor immediately but the Bulls know they'll have to protect him from himself in the meantime. 

"He’s going to have to string together a lot of really good days, and he knows that," Hoiberg said. "He understands that. The important thing is he’s right on track from where it was said after the injury. He’s been doing a great job with his rehab. He’s on time. He’s doing everything that’s asked of him. His strength numbers are where they’re supposed to be. I’m confident he’s going to keep making progress. But we’ll absolutely monitor it daily and hopefully it’ll just continue to get better."

The Bulls aren't sure if they'll send LaVine to the G-League but it's certain they have plans on not only how to use him when he steps on the floor but also a regimen they've stuck to, to ensure there are no real setbacks. 

Hoiberg has been salivating over having a true scorer at that position since trading for him, and LaVine has been eager since his arrival to prove to the Bulls and fans that he is a franchise player. 

Prudence in the moment of progression, though, appears to be the approach taken by both sides.