Look at this tremendous man:
Such grace, such elegance. We could all learn something from that beard. But times are different; Illinois football's days as being the laughing stock of the B1G are over. They played in the 2019 RedBox Bowl, you'll remember. Did they win? Up for debate, but they were there. It counted.
The winds of change are blowing through Champaign, and Lovie Smith knows this. It explains this picture, tweeted from the Illinois Football account on Wednesday night:
It's a new (old?) normal, and one we'll all have to get used to. But Illinois football is BACK.
The Las Vegas Raiders released former second-round pick P.J. Hall on Monday, providing Bears GM Ryan Pace with another viable option to add to Chicago's defensive front after Eddie Goldman's decision to opt-out of the 2020 season.
Hall (6'0, 305 pounds) doesn't fit the prototypical nose tackle profile, but with the Bears' depth chart lacking many quality options behind Goldman, Hall is worth considering.
As it currently stands, veteran John Jenkins will be the first man up to replace Goldman once he returns from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. A rotation of Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris should help too, especially on passing downs. But with so much uncertainty around how the Bears will configure their defensive line without Goldman in place, a rotational piece like Hall is appealing.
Hall was selected by the Raiders in the 2018 draft after a standout career at Sam Houston State. He started 18 games over the last two seasons for Vegas, including 12 in 2019. He finished last season with 26 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Hall is an interesting special teams player, too. He blocked 14 (yeah, 14!) kicks during his college career.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters this week that he expected to get to the club's 80-main training camp roster limit this weekend, and while he's not quite there yet, he did give one of the team's running backs his pink slip on Sunday.
The Bears released undrafted rookie Napoleon Maxwell (Florida International). Meanwhile, Artavis Pierce (Oregon State) was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Maxwell's odds to make the team weren't great even in a traditional training camp setting. With the NFL and NFLPA's COVID-19 agreement mandating that teams be at an 80-man training camp roster by Aug. 16, those odds got much worse.
Pierce's activation qualifies as good news for the former Oregon State Beaver who's been pegged as a strong contender to make the roster despite his status as an undrafted free agent. The Bears lack depth at running back after David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen. Only Ryan Nall stands in Pierce's way for the RB3 role in 2020.