Fire

Thibodeau quiet on Hinrich injury, listed day-to-day

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Thibodeau quiet on Hinrich injury, listed day-to-day

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said point guard Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day with a groin injury he suffered in last night's win over the Thunder, and is a game-time decision for Fridays preseason finale against the Pacers.

Thibodeau would not reveal much on Hinrichs injury, but did note that the point guard did not have an MRI. The team watched film and shot this afternoon at the Berto Center, so there was not an opportunity for the veteran to test it out.

He should be OK. He just tweaked it so well see, Thibodeau said. He said he felt better, so well see.

Hinrich played 15 minutes before injuring himself in the second quarter of the Bulls 94-89 win, scoring eight points and handed out two assists. In five preseason games, Hinrich has averaged 9.4 points and a team-high 5.6 assists per game.

The Bulls open up their regular season at home against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 31, but Thibodeau said he has not thought that far in advance regarding Hinrichs availability.

Hes better today than he was yesterday, and well see where he is tomorrow, Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau also said he does not believe the team will need to look outside for additional point guard depth, despite the roster being thin following Derrick Roses and Hinrichs injuries.

Im not concerned about that at all, Thibodeau said. Were confident in the guys that we have. The responsibility of management is to awlasy look at how you can improve the team. So theyre constantly doing that, but I like the group that we have here.

Richard Hamilton, who missed time last year with a groin injury, said he was happy Hinrich and the Bulls shut him down in the second half rather than pushing it.

Its tough. A groin can linger. You just want to jump on it as quick as possible. And the one thing that was good with him was he didnt come back and play the second half, Hamilton said. Sometimes your adrenaline will allow you to say, No, I dont want to sit out. Ill figure it out at the end of the game. And thats what most players do and I think (the staff) did a great job of really jumping on it early and saying, Alright, you know what? Shut him down.

Back-up Nate Robinson filled in for Hinrich Tuesday night, playing most of the second half to finish with eight points, four rebounds and four assists. Robinson also filled in for Hinrich last week while Hinrich was held out with a right thumb injury. Robinson scored 23 points and handed out 14 assists as a starter in a home win over the Bucks.

Marquis Teague, who would see additional run if Hinrich is forced to miss time, missed his only shot attempt and grabbed a rebound in four minutes.

Prior to Tuesday nights game in which Hinrich suffered the injury, Thibodeau applauded Hinrichs work ethic this offseason to put in a full work of daily preparation to get his body ready for the season. Hinrich missed 18 games with the Hawks last season, and missed the Hawks playoff run in 2010-11.

Hes been fine thus far. Hes put a lot of work into improving his body, getting healthy, Thibodeau said before last nights game, and hopefully hell remain healthy all season.

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

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USA TODAY

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

The wait to find out which players have their options picked up or declined by the Fire might still be a couple weeks, but the first news of a player move in the Fire's offseason came via Twitter.

Defender Joao Meira announced he won't be returning to the club in 2018.

Meira signed with the Fire just before the start of the 2016 preseason after being out of contract in Europe. The Portuguese center back signed a one-year deal with a club option for the second year.

After he played 28 matches with 26 starts in 2016, the Fire picked up his option. He became even more of a fixture at center back in 2017, beating out Jonathan Campbell for the other starting spot alongside Johan Kappelhof. Meira played in 30 regular season matches and made 27 starts, finishing fourth on the team in minutes played (2,412).

That Meira won't be back isn't a major surprise for a few reasons. First, he was out of contract. He was one of two players, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger, on the Fire's roster that the team had no control over for 2018. On top of that, the 30-year-old had made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his home and family in Portugal.

Meira's departure leaves a gap at the center back position for the Fire. Kappelhof, who enters the third year of a three-year guaranteed deal in 2018, and Campbell, who will likely have his club option picked up, enter as the only healthy center backs in 2018. Christian Dean was added in August via trade, but is coming off a broken foot, an injury that has plagued him before. His status for the start of the 2018 season is unclear.

Grant Lillard, a potential homegrown signing and a senior at Indiana, could compete for time at center back next season. He is one of the top rated players in the country for the Hoosiers, which are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While Lillard could step in from a numbers perspective and would add size to the Fire's back line (Lillard is 6-foot-4), he wouldn't be able to replace Meira's ability on the ball. Meira wasn't as effective of a defender as Kappelhof, but was arguably the best passer among the Fire's center backs and helped alleviate pressure at times.

This also opens up an international spot on the Fire's roster. The Fire went over the alloted total last season, but were able to put John Goossens and Jorge Bava on the disabled list to clear room. Meira's exit gives a bit more flexibility in that department.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16