Cubs

Bears training camp capsules: Quarterbacks

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Bears training camp capsules: Quarterbacks

Bears QB lineup best since 1940s you could look it up
Jay Cutlers thumb is healed. New GM Phil Emery re-signed Josh McCown and added former Oakland and Washington starter Jason Campbell.
The result is easily the best quarterback depth chart since the Bears had Brian Griese and Kyle Orton behind Rex Grossman in 2006-2007 and begins training camp ranked No. 2 for the Bears all-time. The firepower at the top in Cutler clearly stamps this as the best quarterback staffing since the group of Sid Luckman, Johnny Lujack and rookie Bobby Layne in 1948.
Two of that group finished in the Hall of Fame. Thats a very longshot for any of the current corps but all three of Cutler-Campbell-McCown have starter experience and motivation to perform from the outset of training camp on. It is probably not a stretch to say that if Jason Campbell were in Chicago last year, the Bears are in the playoffs.
Our quarterback position, weve improved it, said coach Lovie Smith. Sometimes when youre a backup quarterback you go unnoticed. Jason Campbell is a good addition to our group. Josh McCown also as the third quarterback.
So I feel like were going to be able to put more points on the board, which we will have to do. The team that led the league I think averaged 35 points per game last year. We were about at 22. We have to improve on that.
2011 in review
The Bears 2011 season turned on the broken thumb suffered by Cutler in a San Diego game that was all but decided. It was the second straight season for Cutler to end the year with an injury, a trend he and the Bears need to have end. Campbell went down with a broken collarbone, did not receive much interest in free agency, and
The fall from 7-3 and a No. 5 playoff seed, at which point the Bears were sixth in the NFL averaging 26.8 points per game, to 8-8 and out of the postseason was set in motion by the injury at quarterback, a first domino in a chain that culminated in the firing of general manager Jerry Angelo.
Angelo was blamed for not staffing the quarterback position adequately behind Cutler. The irony in this lay in the fact that Angelo did not stick coaches with any player they did not want. Then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2010 did not want Hanie, pressing for signing vet Todd Collins for 1 million. But after a promising two quarters in the NFC Championship game, Martz changed course and decided in 2011 that in fact he could fashion an NFL quarterback out of Hanie, insiders toldCSNChicago.com.
The problems with Hanie and Nathan Enderle, Martzs hand-picked draft choice to develop, were evident in training camp. Hanie threw as many as a half-dozen interceptions in one practice and was briefly demoted behind Enderle, whose ineptness was such that late in the season with Hanie failing, Enderle was not even deemed worth having in uniform three of the final four weeks.
Hanie, Enderle, Martz and Todd Collins are all gone.
2012 training camp What to watch
Depth chart
1. Jay Cutler2. Jason Campbell3. Josh McCown4. Matt Blanchard
This is a position group without a significant element of competition, which is generally a good thing at the quarterback spot. Teams can split and take sides in quarterback competitions. That will not happen in this camp or preseason where the objectives are clear:
Cutler refine rapport with receivers, settle in with third offensive coordinator in four Chicago seasons, but now with position coach and de facto passing-game coordinator Jeremy Bates, previously with Cutler in Denver. The purpose of training camp is to take the return to Cutlers preferred offense to the next level.
Its stuff that I do well. Its stuff that I know, Cutler said. As a quarterback you want to be in the same offense over and over and over and over again so you can get a good feel for it and so you know all the nuances. This offense, I was in it three years in Denver, so this is my fourth year in it. Im very comfortable with it.
Campbell establish viability as No. 2 in season returning from injury; use preseason as audition for 2013 free agency.
I just wanted to be somewhere you can definitely win and compete, Campbell said. At the same time I want to play but you have to understand that that position is definitely taken care of here. But it gives me an opportunity to be on a quality team where you can learn some intangibles within the team. Thats what you take it is the most you can make out of a situation and make the best of it.
McCown provide veteran depth in Bears offense and confirm skills in preseason.
Blanchard an undrafted rookie free agent from Wisconsin-Whitewater, Blanchard played his way during minicamps into a contract and a chance through preseason at the practice squad, Bears or other.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title