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Bears-Titans preview: Titans ball

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Bears-Titans preview: Titans ball

Titans O has the Wright stuff
As the first round of the 2012 draft played out, the Bears turn on the clock arrived. They had made wide receiver a priority even after trading for Brandon Marshall in March and speed receiver Kendall Wright was still available after Jacksonville had taken Justin Blackmon sixth-overall and Arizona chose Michael Floyd 13th.
Wright, the Baylor partner of quarterback Robert Griffin III, was the next-highest rated receiver, according to Pro Football Weeklys Nolan Nawrocki.
But the Bears had Boise States Shea McClellin and South Carolinas Alshon Jeffery rated ahead of Wright. They selected McClellin at No. 19, passed on Wright whom the Tennessee Titans immediately grabbed at No. 20, and came back for Jeffery in the second round.
Wright now stands as the top rookie wide receiver with 40 catches, tied for fifth in the AFC, if for a surprisingly pedestrian 8.8 yards per catch. But his three touchdown receptions are tied for the team lead, which has not surprised the Bears at all.
We thought he was a heckuva football player, said coach Lovie Smith. Hes back from my home area in Texas. I knew quite a bit about him. Hes played well in the league, too. Same things we saw in his college video, hes doing that in the league. Good quickness. Has that great vertical. So he can catch the football. Well have to deal with him.
Titans turnaround?
He is not all the Bears defense will have to deal with.
Including running back Chris Johnson and tight end Jared Cook, the Titans have six players with at least 19 receptions. The Bears have one (Marshall).
The easy focal point of the Tennessee offense is Johnson. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons and last year ranked second on the team with 57 catches. His 19 this season are more than any Bear other than Marshall (Jeffery had 14 before missing the last two games).
If theres a hole there, hes going to find it and hit it fast, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. We just have get in our gaps. Thats our game plan every week: get in our gaps, run through our gaps and try to get into the backfield and make him change directions so we can get more guys to the football."
The Bears have done well getting into backfields against runners, ranking No. 1 against the run allowing 77.9 yards per game and eighth in average yards per carry (3.8). Johnson averages 4.5 this season.
Hasselbeck hassle
But Johnson has never faced the Bears. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has and he beats them.
Hasselbeck signed with Tennessee in 2011 as a free agent and passed for 3,571 yards, fourth-highest in franchise history. He was supposed to turn the offense this year to Jake Locker, the 10th-overall pick of last years draft.
But Locker has been out the last four games with a shoulder injury and the Seahawks have won two of the last three behind Hasselbeck, who has never lost to the Bears outside of Soldier Field either with Green Bay or Seattle.
The problem for the Bears is that he is a classic West Coast quarterback, patient and inclined to use every piece of his offense. Against the Bears is 3-3 for his career, has an 81.4 passer rating, throwing zero interceptions in his last three games vs. the Bears.
You have to be extremely disciplined and know that hes going to utilize everybody on that field at any time, said linebacker Lance Briggs.

ICYMI: Wendell Carter Jr. out 8-12 weeks; Corey Crawford returns to the ice; Kris Bryant angers Cardinal Nation;

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Wendell Carter Jr. out 8-12 weeks; Corey Crawford returns to the ice; Kris Bryant angers Cardinal Nation;

Wendell Carter Jr.'s rookie season might be over due to a thumb injury, Corey Crawford returned to the ice for the Blackhawks and Kris Bryant pissed off Cardinal Nation. Here's what you might have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports:

Bulls

Wendell Carter Jr.'s rookie season appears to be over following news that the 19-year-old needs thumb surgery. Carter's season ends as an unknown, much like the rest of the Bulls' season.

Chicago-native Dwyane Wade played his final NBA game in Chicago on Saturday night, a 117-103 Heat win. It is impossible to tell the story of Wade's Hall of Fame career without including Chicago.

No player was happier to return to Chicago from the Bulls' 0-5 West Coast trip than Kris Dunn, whose midrange game has disappeared.

Following their big loss to the Heat, Zach LaVine had telling comments about the state of the Bulls. Matt Peck, David Watson and John Sabine react to that and more on the latest Bulls Outsiders Podcast.

Blackhawks

The Blackhawks snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday, taking down the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals 8-5. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a big game, tallying five points apiece.

In other positive news, Corey Crawford returned to the ice before practice on Saturday. Crawford has been in concussion protocol since Dec. 16.

Henri Jokiharju was a healthy scratch on Sunday, but the Blackhawks are pleased with the rookie defenseman's progression.

Cubs

At Cubs Convention on Friday, Theo Epstein said he does not think the Cubs are done making moves this winter. However, the Cubs president mentioned how adding to the bullpen is the main focus and insisted there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes.

Epstein also laid out what suspended shortstop Addison Russell has to do to return to the Cubs.

New Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta was happy in California. Then, the Cubs came calling; what does Loretta bring to the team in 2019?

Yu Darvish is ready for takeoff after making just eight starts in 2018, his debut campaign on the North Side.

Kris Bryant called St. Louis boring, and Cardinal Nation was not too happy about it.

David Kaplan and Kelly Crull talked with Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Kris Bryant and many more on Friday's edition of SportsTalk Live.

Other

The White Sox are reportedly discussing a trade with the Dodgers regarding outfielder Joc Pederson. Plus, the Manny Machado sweepstakes are getting kind of mysterious.

What should the Bears do with impending free agent safety Adrian Amos? If the team re-signs Amos, he will have a new defensive backs coach in 2019, as the Bears hired Deshea Townsend on Friday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, multiple teams are interested in former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Bears head coach Matt Nagy did not shut down the possibility of adding Hunt at the team's end of season press conference last week.

 

Bryce Harper jokes that Tony Romo knows where outfielder will sign in free agency

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USA TODAY

Bryce Harper jokes that Tony Romo knows where outfielder will sign in free agency

Is it possible that the best quarterback in Sunday’s AFC Championship was not on the field, but instead in the broadcast booth?

CBS analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was the talk of Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Chiefs. Romo consistently predicted plays before they happened, much to the delight and amazement of those watching the game on television.

MLB superstar Bryce Harper even chimed in on Twitter. Harper, who is still a free agent, jokingly tweeted that he called Romo to learn which team he will play for in 2019.

Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes delivered an instant-classic game on the field. However, Romo’s performance in the booth deserves recognition and should be remembered as well.

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