Bears

Bears-Cowboys injury report: Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch will not play

Bears-Cowboys injury report: Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch will not play

Week 14’s game between the Bears (6-6) and the Dallas Cowboys (6-6) won’t be short on the drama. While the Bears injured list hasn’t changed significantly since last reported yesterday, with Bilal Nichols (knee) having limited participation in Tuesday’s practice, it has been announced that Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will not play this Thursday at Soldier Field.

The 23-year-old has a history of neck injuries and has been unable play since the Cowboy’s Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions.

When asked about missing yet another game on 1310 The Ticket, Vander Esch responded that “I want to be able to play for 10 or 12 years, not four.”

Vander Esch was selected by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. 

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Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Believe it or not, the Chicago Bears are in good shape for the 2020 NFL Draft even without a first-round pick.

This year’s class of prospects runs deep with talent and several players chosen between picks 33-50 will have upside similar to first-rounders from years past.

The Bears have two picks in that range — No.s 43 and 50 — and have a great opportunity to add two starting-quality players by the end of Day 2.

But which players are likely to be available when they’re on the clock? 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. published his new mock draft Friday and it offers a good look not only at who the potential first-round picks will be but also the cluster of highly-ranked prospects who will fall into Round 2.

Here are five players who didn’t make Kiper’s first-round cut that the Bears will give strong consideration to. 

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm is likely to be the highest-rated passer still on the board when the Bears are on the clock in the second round. And while he doesn’t have elite traits, his experience as a starter in the SEC adds an element to Chicago’s quarterback room that’s currently missing. Plus, his accuracy on short and intermediate routes is a good fit for Matt Nagy’s offense.

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

The best tight end at the 2020 Senior Bowl and arguably the top tight end in the draft class slips out of Kiper’s first round and potentially into the Bears’ lap at No. 43 overall. Hopkins is an athletic yet undersized pass-catcher at the position who would immediately challenge for the starting job in Chicago.

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

Lewis certainly looks the part of an NFL edge rusher and with questions surrounding the future of former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, the Bears are likely to target a player who can help add some juice on the outside rush track. Lewis’ production (only seven sacks the last two seasons) will likely create enough questions about his upside to push him into the second round.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The offensive line was a big weakness in 2019 and there’s no doubt it will be a high priority in the 2020 NFL draft. The pressing question is whether the Bears will attack offensive tackle or guard first, but with a player like Jackson making it to the second round in Kiper’s mock draft, Chicago would be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Lloyd Cushenberry, iOL, LSU

Cushenberry was one of the top offensive linemen at the 2020 Senior Bowl and will be a riser throughout the draft process. He may end up being the best interior lineman to slip to the second round, and like Hopkins, would be an immediate upgrade and potential starter on Day 1 of his rookie season.

Would Eric Berry be an upgrade at safety for Bears? Allen Robinson thinks so

Would Eric Berry be an upgrade at safety for Bears? Allen Robinson thinks so

Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was once considered an elite NFL defender, especially after he returned to the gridiron following a battle with cancer in 2014. He resumed his status as one of the best safeties in the league, but a torn Achilles in 2017 limited him to just two games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He was out of football in 2019, and according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, it was an intentional decision by Berry who had suitors on the open market.

With Berry ready to make his return to the league, and the Bears potentially in the market for a safety this offseason, wide receiver Allen Robinson offered a pretty surprising comment on Twitter suggesting Berry would be an upgrade over what Chicago fielded in 2019 with Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

And while Robinson is entitled to his opinion, his decision to share it publicly may not have been the best choice. Clinton-Dix took notice.


RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

It's also worth noting that Clinton-Dix had a pretty strong first season as a Bear. One could argue he'll be more hotly pursued on the open market than Berry, whose best football is in the rear-view mirror at 31 years old.

It's common for players to softly recruit respected veteran free agents through social media and other means this time of year. The Bears may have no choice but to sign a player like Berry who should come at a discounted rate compared to Clinton-Dix this offseason. But if Clinton-Dix does return, it'll be interesting to monitor the locker-room dynamic in training camp.

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