Camp Chatter: Tice, Cutler breaking barriers; Price debuts


Camp Chatter: Tice, Cutler breaking barriers; Price debuts

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterback Jay Cutler just dont speak the same language. Literally.

Hes from the South and Im from New York so he doesnt get my jokes much or understand much of my English, said Tice, who as a New Yorker clearly views Indiana as the South.

For instance, if theyre going to talk cars, Its not aw-toe, its ott-toe, Tice said.

Car talk isnt where Cutler and Tice need to be communicating, however. Specifics of the offense are and both sides are satisfied that theres a meeting of the minds developing.

Im trying to give him everything thats on my mind: what I dislike, what I like, what I love, what I hate, what I think is going to work, Cutler said. Thats why hes got a tough job.

Assuming Tice speaks Hoosier, the Bears should be fine. Mike Martz was not always receptive to Cutlers suggestions initially but Tice expressly asks for them.

We want to know what he likes, Tice said. I think its very important to have a line of communication with the quarterback and running back and the receivers.

Why call things that theyre not comfortable with? If were calling things theyre not comfortable with, theyre not going to make the right throws. If were calling runs the back doesnt like, hes not going to hit it up in there. If were calling routes that the receiver doesnt like to run, hes not going to run them with authority or confidence.

So I think its important across the board to have a great line of communication between the players and the coaches.

Price sees first action with Bears

Defensive tackle Brian Price spent his first day in pads since his trade to the Bears from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it was a difficult one. Price, wearing No. 95, started well in some reps with the No. 2 defense but is clearly not yet in full football shape. He and backup center Edwin Williams had a brief bit of shoving after a pass-protection drill won by Williams.

Hopes are still very high for the former second-round pick, who is viewed as a potential impact player at both inside spots. We wont probably bring in a guy if he can only play nose, coach Lovie Smith said. You have to have some athletic ability. Im talking about 3-technique, under-tackle type ability and he has that.

Camp Notes

Cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman came up with interceptions in Tuesdays session.

Kahlil Bell provided Tuesdays top highlight when he did a vault and somersault into the end zone in a full-tackling goal-line period. Bell is facing a very stiff challenge to stick as the No. 3 running back over Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker in particular.

Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin continued to struggle in pass rush, being handled first by left tackle JMarcus Webb, who was taking his day with the No. 1 unit, and then by rookie tight end Evan Rodriguez. McClellin had a little success against Chris Williams but Williams also had the upper hand in their reps.

In the kind of matchup the Bears would like anytime, Matt Forte was isolated on a linebacker and Cutler dropped a touch pass into his hands along the right sideline. The linebacker happened to be Lance Briggs, which wont make it a special moment in the defensive meeting room but Forte is one of the NFLs elite receivers out of the backfield.

The Commish in town

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is stopping by Bears camp Wednesday afternoon and will be part of a brief panel discussion with Bears Chairman George McCaskey and former coach and broadcaster John Madden.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start


Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."