Bears

How Willie Young's reported season-ending injury impacts the Bears

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USA TODAY

How Willie Young's reported season-ending injury impacts the Bears

Since the beginning of training camp, the Bears' defense has had to deal with an avalanche of season-ending injuries, from outside linebacker Lamarr Houston to inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman to safety Quintin Demps. According to the Chicago Tribune, Willie Young will be added to that list with a season-ending torn triceps. 

The Bears listed Young as a limited participant in Thursday's practice, but the veteran outside linebacker didn't participate in practice on Friday or Saturday and was officially deemed doubtful for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Young had two sacks this year, tied for the team lead with Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee, and totaled 26 sacks since joining the Bears from the Detroit Lions in 2013. 

"It’s definitely going to impact the rotation," McPhee said of Young's injury. "Just another guy who knows how to get after the quarterback. This is where our depth in our room is really going to show in how much we trust in each other. I think we got the guys who can make up for it, but you really can’t make up for Willie, so we got guys who are going to play a major role in this game."

Without Young, the Bears likely will elevate either Isaiah Irving or Howard Jones from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night. Irving, an undrafted rookie from San Jose State, notched three sacks during preseason play while Jones had five sacks in 2015 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

But Young's injury puts the Bears' defensive depth — which was already going to be tested Monday night —​ in an even more precarious position. McPhee and Leonard Floyd are the only outside linebackers with recent pass-rushing success (Sam Acho had seven sacks in 2011, but only has one sack in four years with the Bears). And Floyd hasn't made an impact getting to the quarterback this year, whiffing on a shot at Ben Roethlisberger in Week 3 and recording his first sack last Thursday against the Green Bay Packers. 

The Bears will need Floyd, especially, to step up and fill the pass-rushing void left by Young. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio intimated that Floyd's back injury, which limited in practice earlier this season, played a part in his slow start to his second year in the NFL. 

"He’s had his good moments and not so good," Fangio said. "He played the first week or so with a little wrenched back that affected him some in the first game and some of the second game. I thought he played well against Pittsburgh. And then last week really none of us played well enough to win.

"... I think he’s progressing on a good, upward trend. It maybe hadn’t translated to the stats, which you guys want to see, but he’s doing fine."

While the Bears' defense has been solid, it hasn't made a lot of big plays: Nine sacks (21st) two forced fumbles (20th) and no interceptions (29th). McPhee on Saturday described what can help jump-start those playmaking efforts —​ efforts that, without Young, will need to be successful for this defense to weather another significant injury. 

"Just (go) out there and — I call it playing chess instead of checkers — just beat your guy," McPhee said. "Don’t worry about how he’s going to block you, just — everybody stays study your opponent, but sometimes you have to study yourself. You could study your opponent all you want to but if you ain’t studying yourself and don’t know what you did wrong, you’ll never win no matter how much you study a guy. So for me, it’s just like, make a guy block you, go make a player, especially when you get that one-on-one." 

Saints’ QB Teddy Bridgewater expected to have a hefty price tag in free agency

Saints’ QB Teddy Bridgewater expected to have a hefty price tag in free agency

The NFL off-season is gearing up this winter, with trade and salary rumors running rampant among analysts and fans. GM Ryan Pace has his work cut out for him, with a decently sized to-do list before the 2020 season, including finding competition under center for QB Mitch Trubisky. From Tom Brady to Philip Rivers, there are plenty of quarterback options, but one player may have gotten too expensive for the Bears.

ESPN’S Jeremy Fowler reports that Saints’ QB Teddy Bridgewater is expected to rake in big money in free agency. With a projected salary to the tune of $30 million per year, Bridgewater could land a lucrative deal if he doesn’t resign with the Saints.

It makes some sense that Bridgewater could come with such a hefty price tag. Bridgewater earned above-average rankings in adjusted yards per attempt (15th), QB Rating (11th), TD Rate (13th) and completion rate (6th) among 38 QBs to start at least five games in 2019. If Drew Brees decides to keep playing, the Saints will have to choose between Bridgewater and Taysom Hill as their backup.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer previously reported that if Brees were to retire, the Saints viewed Hill as their new franchise quarterback, leaving Bridgewater free to explore other options.

It has yet to be seen how Brees and the Saints will proceed, but it’s certainly a reality check to see how expensive the QB market will be this off-season. 

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Bears could use a quarterback like the XFL's standout passer

Bears could use a quarterback like the XFL's standout passer

The XFL is two weeks into its inaugural season, and there's one player who's standing head and shoulders above the rest as a viable NFL prospect at the game's most important position.

Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker has taken the league by storm. His three touchdown passes in Week 1 set the table for another impressive performance in Houston's Week 2 victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks, and looked every bit the part of a dual-threat playmaker that's quickly become the modern-era prototype.

Take a look:

Walker tossed another three touchdowns while looking like the best player on the field (and in the entire XFL) for the second week in a row. Whether his game can translate to success on the NFL level is a big unknown at this point. He spent two seasons on the Colts practice squad without seeing any regular-season action.

Walker's early-season success is a great example of how developmental leagues like the XFL can serve as a feeder for the NFL at positions of need. Quarterback is no exception, especially in Chicago where Mitch Trubisky is in the most uncertain offseason of his career. 

This isn't to suggest that a player like Walker is appealing enough to be the guy GM Ryan Pace adds to the roster as potential competition for Trubisky. But as a possible QB3 behind Trubisky and an established veteran added in free agency? It isn't the worst idea in the world, especially after seeing the kind of playmaking ability he has when given a chance to get on the field.

XFL players can make the jump to the NFL after the 2020 season concludes. The championship game Is scheduled for April 26.