Preps Talk

Bears clearly thinking bigger

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Bears clearly thinking bigger

During his first public session as Bears general manager, Phil Emery pointedly described the NFL as a big-mans game. Lovie Smiths demand for speed would always be uppermost in most personnel thinking but the Bears, who had looked to get bigger on the offensive line over the past half-dozen years, were going to do it elsewhere as well.

That commitment was amply apparent in the unveiling of the expanded preseason roster, the rookies of which were working at Halas Hall this weekend.

The 2011 Bears had only one receiver taller than 6 feet (Roy Williams at 6-3) and generously listing Earl Bennett at 6 feet.

Besides veterans Brandon Marshall (6-4) and Devin Thomas (6-2) coming in for OTAs later this month, the Bears roster for rookie minicamp includes only one receiver shorter than 6 feet. No. 2 pick Alshon Jeffery is 6-3.

Marshall is a mismatch receiver, Emery said. He creates problems for corners. The average corner around the league is 5-11 and a lot of them are shorter than that. He creates a problem for them from the get-go just from his structure.

Indeed, two of the Bears top three cornerbacks last season -- left corner Tim Jennings and nickel corner D.J. Moore -- were sub-5-10.

Veteran signees Kelvin Hayden (6-0) and Jonathan Wilhite (5-10) already bump up the average.

And all of the Bears three draft choices in the secondary -- safety Brandon Hardin (6-3), corners Isaiah Frey (6-0) and Greg McCoy (5-10) -- moved the size needle in the direction of the receivers that afflict the Bears in the NFC North.

It's tough to take an undersized player as a depth player and in your mind he's going to continue to ascend and hasn't already reached a ceiling, Emery said. You want take players and be oriented toward players that are bigger, stronger, faster, so they can continue to develop in that role and possibly hit on a starter."

Ironically, No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin held to the course of speed and functional strength over simple size, at 6-3, 260 pounds. But even McClellin already is weightier than predecessors Mark Anderson and Alex Brown, who played at 250 pounds or below.

High School Lites Football Semifinals Roundup

High School Lites Football Semifinals Roundup

High School Lites has plenty of great IHSA football playoff action from the semifinals on Saturday as NBC Sports Chicago has highlights of many of the area's top matchups. 

Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie RidgeEpisode 14

This Week's Scores

Class 8A

Loyola Academy 17, Edwardsville 10

Lincoln-Way East 24, Maine South 14

Class 7A

Lake Zurich 14, Mount Carmel 7

Batavia 23, Benet Academy 13

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge 42, Hoffman Estates 21

Nazareth Academy 24, Providence Catholic 7

Class 5A

Phillips 27, Sterling 14

Dunlap 21, Washington 0

Class 4A

Morris 43, Raby 8

Rochester 31, Highland 14

Class 3A

IC Catholic 7, Byron 0

Pleasant Plains 41, Anna-Jonesboro 2

Class 2A

Gibson City 14, Newman Central Catholic 8

Maroa-Forsyth 25, Shelbyville 14

Class 1A

Tuscola 21, Athens 14

Lena-Winslow 12, Forreston 8

 

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.