Cordarrelle Patterson wants to use Bears connection to pick Devin Hester's brain

Cordarrelle Patterson wants to use Bears connection to pick Devin Hester's brain

That he had just signed with the team where Devin Hester became the greatest returner in NFL history wasn’t lost on Cordarrelle Patterson, arguably the best returner in the NFL today. 

Patterson has six kickoff return touchdowns in his six-year career with the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, two of which came against the Bears (2013 with Minnesota, 2018 with New England). Hester returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, while totaling 14 punt returns scores and another off a missed field goal to give him a Hall of Fame-worthy 20 return touchdowns in his career. 

So Patterson, now that he’s with the Bears, wants to get ahold of Hester and pick his brain about a few things. 

“It really is an honor and a blessing to be here,” Patterson said. “And just to learn from Devin — I'm actually just in the process of trying to get his phone number to learn a lot f tips and stuff that he did while he was here. Hopefully I can get his phone number and he can write me back and give me a little tips that, how to be as great as he was when he was here.”

In a Players Tribune article from 2017, Patterson said Hester is his “favorite” kick returner he’s ever studied: “He’s amazing, so smooth and so fast. I just love watching him,” Patterson wrote. 

Patterson and Hester have shared a field before — and Hester probably took note of the then-rookie in 2013. Patterson returned the opening kick of a Week 2 Bears-Vikings game 105 yards for a touchdown, the first return score of his career. But just getting to be on the same field as Hester was important for Patterson then — and now, perhaps, he’ll get to have a few conversations with someone he said is one of the “gods” of the NFL. 

“I’ve been returning kicks for my whole life, you know, and getting to see him in person it was just, it was like a dream come true,” Pattersonsaid. “People don't really get to experience that on a regular (basis) and, and a guy like me, a return specialist looking up to Devin Hester and to play against him and seeing him in action, it was just amazing.”

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Sacks or not, why the Bears see Leonard Floyd delivering on expectations

USA Today

Sacks or not, why the Bears see Leonard Floyd delivering on expectations

Leonard Floyd had two sacks in his 2019 debut, yet hasn’t tallied one since. But the Bears disagree with the idea of Floyd pulling a disappearing act over his last four games. 

“I don’t think saying he had two sacks in the first game and has done nothing since is a fair assessment of what he’s done,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. “… Leonard Floyd had done a great job of setting edges, he’s done a great job of affecting the passing game in coverage, he’s done a great job of knocking guys back into the launch point. We’ve just gotta figure out ways to get him clear and get him to finish as a rusher. And he’s completely focused and intent on doing that. He’s the right guy for it.”

Floyd indeed has made a positive impact since the Green Bay game in terms of generating pressures (nine) and getting run stops (seven), per Pro Football Focus. The Bears trust him to hold his own in coverage, too, having him drop back on 22 percent of his snaps on passing plays. 

This is where internal expectations for Floyd may not match the external ones from folks wondering why a player drafted ninth overall hasn’t had more than seven sacks in a season yet, and only has 17 1/2 sacks in 43 career games. Floyd’s sack total declined each of his first three years in the NFL; he only needs 4 1/2 sacks this year to change that, but it’s a low bar to clear. 

It’s worth noting Floyd’s 17 1/2 sacks are fifth-most among first-round picks since 2016, behind Joey Bosa (31 1/2), Myles Garrett (29 1/2), DeForest Buckner (24) and T.J. Watt (24). But it’s also worth noting that 71 players have had more sacks than Floyd’s 10 1/2 since the start of the 2017 season. 

Floyd looked to have the makings of a breakout season after that two-sack game against the Packers given he didn’t get his second sack of 2018 until Week 13, and didn’t hit that mark until Week 5 of the 2017 season. The hope was a fast start would spark Floyd to the kind of game-wrecking season worthy of a No. 9 overall pick, right?

That hasn’t happened. Floyd ranks 97th in Pro Football Focus’ pass rushing productivity metric, behind guys like ex-Bear Pernell McPhee and current Bear Aaron Lynch. 

So at this point in Floyd’s fourth season a a pro, it’s time for outside expectations to meet internal expectations for him. 

It’s a shift that can certainly feel disappointing. But the Bears would argue Floyd’s contributions are highly valuable given his ability to do so many different things, from stopping the run to dropping into coverage to affecting the pocket even if he doesn’t get a sack. He’s just not getting the one stat to which everyone pays attention. 

“He’s still impacting the game,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “… The sacks or whatever, those haven’t been there of late. He’s great. He plays extremely hard. He does his job every single down. That’ll come. So he’s not going to press. I’ve got to do a better job of trying to get those guys in position to make those plays.”

The lack of sacks aren’t anything new for Floyd, too. He had 17 in three years at Georgia, and only had 4 1/2 his final season in Athens. And what general manager Ryan Pace said in 2016 after drafting Floyd sounds a lot like what Monachino and Pagano are saying about him now. 

“You know when you watch the tape: They move him all over,” Pace said at the time. “He’s such a versatile athlete, so he playing inside linebacker one snap and the next snap he’s in nickel running down the field with a slot receiver. And then he’s rushing. You see him at all these different positions.

“… You don’t see guys getting into him. Guys that I think struggle against the run, they let offensive linemen get into their chest and get engulfed by blocks. He doesn’t do that. He plays with such great separation, he keeps that from happening.”

The ability to ask him to do any task necessary in coverage. The ability to stop the run. These are what the Bears want to get out of Floyd, and are getting out of Floyd, in 2019. It may not be what those outside Halas Hall hoped for, and to an extent, it may not be what those inside the facility wanted, either. Teams usually trade up for powerful weapons, not Swiss army knives. 

This deep into Floyd’s NFL career, he is what he is. The double-digit sack breakout probably isn’t coming. 

But the belief in him from those inside Halas Hall isn’t going away, either. 

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If you didn't love him already, wait until you hear that Eddy Piñeiro is practicing at Soldier Field tomorrow

USA Today

If you didn't love him already, wait until you hear that Eddy Piñeiro is practicing at Soldier Field tomorrow

There are certain aspects of Fall in Chicago that other cities just can’t replicate. Whether it’s the first cold wind swirling through a playoff game at Wrigley, the 4:15 sunset, or endless optimism about Northwestern football turning it around in time for a New Years Six run, Chicago’s autumn overflows with rich tradition. 

The Granddaddy of Them All, though, is the annual inquiry that’s as time-honored as asking for  giardiniera and then picking off like half of it because god, that’s so much giardiniera. 

Will the Bears’ kicker be practicing at Soldier Field??

It’s long been the harbinger of whether a kicker Has What It Takes to succeed here. Robbie Gould loved [loved] to talk about how much he practiced at Soldier, and Cody Parkey avoided heading south on I-90 like his job depended on it. Kickers will say it doesn't make or break their ability to hit field goals on the infamously-rough field, but the court of public opinion can be just as unforgiving.

As for Eddy Piñeiro? He *will* be working out at Soldier Field. Exhale! Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor confirmed the practice session during his weekly media session from Halas Hall on Thursday, saying that the kicker plans to head into the city to work on some things. 

“We do [plan on going],” said Tabor, a man of few words. “In fact we're going to head down tomorrow.” 

Kicking at Soldier only gets tougher when the temperatures dip. Much of the reason Piñeiro made it through a shaky start to OTAs and Training Camp is because what he lacked in accuracy, he made up for in leg talent. 

After pinching a nerve in his kicking knee during a weight room session, many wondered whether he’ll still have enough power to hit some of the long-range kicks. According to the Bears, however, his rehab is progressing as planned and the power hasn’t left. 

“He's fine,” Tabor also said, seemingly unconcerned with word count requirements for kicker updates. “Kicked well yesterday.” 

In fact, Pineiro’s already at a place where he and the team feel that he’s close to returning to kickoffs. 

“Hoping so,” Tabor added, commendably committed to the bit. “We're working on it and we'll see where that's at.” 

So there you have it: Eddy Pineiro is practicing at Soldier Field tomorrow, feels almost 100% again, and may be back on kickoffs this Sunday.