Bears

Pacman Jones back in court ... again

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Pacman Jones back in court ... again

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Jones entered the plea in Hamilton County Municipal Court just as his non-jury trial was scheduled to begin. A second misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest was dismissed in a plea agreement with prosecutors. Judge Brad Greenberg ordered Jones to serve a year of probation, complete 50 hours of community service and pay a 250 fine plus court costs. Jones, 28, was accused in court documents of being disorderly, shouting profanities and trying to pull away as officers arrested him at a downtown bar in July. At the time, Jones was on probation in Las Vegas in connection with a 2007 no contest plea to a strip club melee that left three people wounded. He was ordered in November to perform an additional 75 hours of community service for violating that probation with the Cincinnati arrest. Jones apologized in court to police for his conduct and said he realized that he should have handled the situation better. The judge told Jones that he did not know how "someone with your ability risks your career with this type of behavior." Neither Jones nor his attorney would comment after leaving the courtroom. Jones will be a free agent after completing his second season with Cincinnati, which gave him a chance to continue his career. Tennessee made Jones the sixth overall pick in 2005. He started 28 games in his first two seasons with the Titans, but repeated arrests scuttled his career. He missed the entire 2007 season with the first of two suspensions from the league. The Titans traded Jones to Dallas before the 2008 draft. An alcohol-related altercation with a bodyguard that the Cowboys provided cost him another six-game suspension. He was out of the NFL for a year before the Bengals gave him the two-year deal in 2010 and a final chance to show he can stay out of trouble and hold a job in the NFL. He excelled as Cincinnati's No. 3 cornerback before a neck injury ended his 2010 season after only five games. Jones had surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. He had another procedure on the neck last summer and opened the season on an injury list, forcing him to miss the first six games. He pulled a hamstring in his first game back, forcing him to sit out two more. Jones played the rest of the way and started eight games at cornerback in place of the injured Leon Hall. He didn't have an interception. Jones had two punt returns for 67 yards. His arrest over the summer made him one of eight NFL players subject to discipline for incidents that occurred during the lockout. Bengals running back Cedric Benson also had an offseason arrest in Texas and got a one-game suspension during the season. The league will review Jones' case and then could impose another suspension should he sign with a team.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?