Blackhawks

What impact will rookies have on 2012 Bears?

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What impact will rookies have on 2012 Bears?

The Chicago Bears rookie minicamp is just around the corner. 2012 Rookies and normally new free agents will be introduced to the Bears playbook and learn how to practice like pros May 11-13th.

How will Draft selections fit and what impact will they realistically provide the Bears in 2012?

Before examining 2012 draft pick expectation for the Bears, lets preface normal rookie impact across the NFL landscape.

Many NFL general managers and coaches will tell you 90-95 percent of rookies are not ready to play. They will also tell you most draft picks contribute. 2011 was an anomaly because of the lockout. Most schemes were scaled back, leading to some outstanding performances from rookies like QB Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) and LB Von Miller (Denver Broncos) to name a few.

Historically, there will be about 20 to 25 draft picks that are actually penciled in as starters opening day across the league.

Expectation:

RD 1 (19th) Shea McClellin 6-3, 260 Boise State DEOLB - Whether McClellin can prove to be an every down DE -- which is what Lovie wants McClellin to be -- is a big question mark. McClellin was targeted for OLB in a 3-4 scheme. What McClellin may provide the Bears is the ability to kick DEDT Israel Idonije down to DT, putting three pass rushers (Peppers, McClellin, & Idonije) on the field in passing situations. The Bears were ranked 28th in the NFL versus the pass and 19th with only 33 sacks in '11. Three pass rushers should provide more pressure on opposing QBs, but this is a wait-and-see approach.

RD 2 (45th) Alshon Jeffery 6-4, 220 South Carolina WR - Jeffery could provide the biggest impact for the Bears in 2012. I imagine him backing up Brandon Marshall at the Weak side (X) position to start. Jeffery can watch how it is done from one of the best. It will be easier for the veteran to learn both X & Z (Flanker) positions than to overload Jeffery. All rookies learn at a different rate and this has been a problem area for the Bears in the past due to Martz system, but maybe no longer with new OC Mike Tices simplified approach moving forward.

The Bears' two best offensive personnel groupings will be: Regular (X, Y, Z & 2 backs) which equates to Jeffery, Davis, Marshall, Klutz and Forte or Bush all on the field and the other grouping is 3 WRs (X, Y, Z, W & 1back) which would be Jeffery, Davis, Marshall, Bennett and Forte or Bush all on the field. Either grouping is a monster lineup that would be difficult to defend. It also coincides with what Tice did while coaching the Vikings.

Sorry Hester fans, Devin will have a role, but more of the package type.

RD 3 (79th) Brandon Hardin 6-3, 217 Oregon State SCB - Missed all last year with a broken shoulder. The Bears felt comfortable with their medical due diligence and research to select Hardin. Safety has been a revolving door for the Bears and history suggests Hardin may have to contribute at some point in 2012. Any impact will more likely be on special teams or if the Bears utilize Big Nickel, which is three safeties on the field to combat Heavy personnel on offense. Hardin will start out as the third or fourth safety on the Bears depth chart.

RD 4 (111th) Evan Rodriguez 6-4 FBH back Temple - Rodriguez could potentially carve out a nice role and playing time if he can pick up the offense quickly and of course will contribute on special teams.

No GuaranteesPractice Squad

RD 6 (184th) Isaiah Frey 5-11, 188 CB Nevada RD 7 (220th) selection Greg McCoy 5-10, 180 TCU - There are no guarantees for Frey or McCoy. The additions of free agents CB Kelvin Hayden and CB Jonathan Wilhite will provide some great battles in training camp to make the team. These two better strap up their special teams hat to scrap like crazy to make the squad. Both may potentially be practice squad material.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 8:45 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Corey Crawford vs. ... Oscar Dansk? 

The Golden Knights have seen both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban go down with injuries, so they're scraping for goaltenders at this point.

On one end of the ice, you have one of the best netminders in the league and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Crawford. On the other, you have a 23-year-old rookie in Dansk making his first official NHL start who will be backed up by a 24-year-old rookie in Maxime Lagace, who has never appeared in an NHL game.

In his first game action, Dansk stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief during Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis.

2. Fast start.

The Blackhawks are tied for second in both goals scored (13) and fewest goals allowed (four) in the first period, which has a large reason for their early season success.

The Golden Knights aren't the kind of team that gets out to a blazing start. They've allowed only five goals in the opening frame, but they've scored only five as well, which ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league. 

3. Beware of James Neal.

The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to win six of their first seven games of their inaugural season. And they probably don't have half of those wins if it weren't for Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in each of their first three games.

He leads the club with six goals and eight points, and serves as the motor for a team that doesn't have much offensive talent. He's the go-to guy, and somebody you have to keep an eye on when he's on the ice.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.