Bears

NBC Sports Chicago to provide extensive, multi-platform coverage of 2018 NFL Draft

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to provide extensive, multi-platform coverage of 2018 NFL Draft

Chicago, IL (April 24, 2018) – With the Chicago Bears holding the #8 overall pick, NBC Sports Chicago is ready to deliver extensive multi-platform coverage of this week’s massively-anticipated 2018 NFL Draft highlighted by a special “Authentic Fan” Draft Night Party on Thursday night (April 26), live eighth-pick reaction cut-ins during the network’s White Sox & Cubs telecasts, a special remote edition of “SportsTalk Live,” a Draft Night taping of “Beer Money,” “Draft Central” Preview & Recap specials, full-blown digital & social media coverage, and much more!  Please note NBC Sports Chicago’s multi-platform 2018 NFL Draft coverage details beginning tomorrow night (Wed, Apr. 25) (all times Central Time):

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25

  • 10:30 PM - “NFL Draft Central Preview presented by Coors Light” – Featuring “Bears Postgame Live” host Laurence Holmes & former Bears standout/current Bears PGL analyst Alex Brown, along with veteran Bears/NFL expert Hub Arkush, this half-hour Draft preview special will provide fans with extensive details on all of the options the Bears may take with their first round pick, along with additional discussion on other players to keep an eye on in the later rounds of this weekend’s Draft. (NOTE: Live stream available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app) 
     

THURSDAY, APRIL 26

5:30 PM – “Authentic Fan” Draft Night Party presented by Coors Light - Buffalo Wings & Rings (3434 S. Halsted St., Chicago – Bridgeport neighborhood)

Draft Party highlights include…

  • Special drawing for two (2) to win a trip to the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival in Canton, OH, which includes tickets to the NFL/Hall of Fame Game featuring the Bears vs. Baltimore (Thu, Aug. 2) and tickets to the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony featuring the official induction of Bears legend Brian Urlacher (Sat, Aug. 4)
  • First 100 fans in attendance to also receive a free “Authentic Fan” stadium blanket
  • 5:30 PM - “Beer Money presented by Coors Light” Draft Special taping (featuring hosts Luke Stuckmeyer & Kelly Crull)
  • 6:00 PM - Special remote edition of “SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado” (with host David Kaplan, along with Bears/NFL Draft experts) (NOTE: Live stream available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app) 

Additional Draft Night coverage includes…

  • Between 8:15-9:00 PM (time approx.) -- Live #8 pick reaction cut-ins during NBC Sports Chicago’s White Sox & Cubs telecasts from the “Authentic Fan” Draft Night Party (featuring commentary from “Bears Postgame Live’s” Laurence Holmes & Alex Brown)
  • 11:00 PM - “NFL Draft Central Recap presented by Coors Light” – This half-hour Draft recap special, hosted by Holmes & Brown, will dive into detailed discussion surrounding the Bears first round pick, along with showcasing podium moment highlights from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, a complete overview of all first round picks and draft night trades, plus – NBC Sports Chicago will also carry interviews with Bears team execs live from Halas Hall. (NOTE: Live stream available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app) 
  • NBCSportsChicago.com Bears digital reporter/producer JJ Stankevitz will provide fans with a thorough overview of the Bears top pick, along with additional coverage on how the pick fits into the Bears scheme for 2018 and beyond, plus follow-up content/perspective following Bears GM Ryan Pace session with the media.  Upon the conclusion of the Draft on Saturday, Stankevitz will also provide a complete breakdown on what the Bears accomplished in this year’s Draft and all the pro & cons associated with their 2018 picks/trades.  For full NFL Draft content and videos, fans are urged to visit the network’s dedicated Bears section at NBCSportsChicago/Bears
     

Additional coverage highlights leading up to and throughout the Draft…

  • SOCIAL MEDIA:
  • Each day leading up to the Draft, NBC Sports Chicago will be posting “On The Clock” and “Players That Bear Watching” features on both NBCSportsChicago.com and @NBCSBears on Twitter. “On The Clock” is a breakdown of all the top first-round prospects and features analysis from NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris and Chicago Sun-Times Bears beat reporter Adam Jahns. “Players That Bear Watching” spotlights a number of additional prospects of note that could go in rounds 2-7. 
  • On Thursday night, fans are also urged to check out a special Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) segment (starting the moment the 7th pick is on the clock) featuring reaction/commentary from Laurence Holmes and Alex Brown to the Bears’ 8th overall pick in the Draft (to also stream live on NBCSportsChicago.com).
  • Fans will be able to find full Draft coverage throughout the weekend on Facebook, Twitter (@NBCSBears) and Instagram (from ‘NBCSChicago’).
  • PODCASTS: Fans can look forward to a pair of NFL Draft-specific editions of NBC Sports Chicago’s popular “Under Center PODCAST” this week featuring Holmes, Brown, Stankevitz and additional special guests. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
  • IN THE LOOP presented by GMC: On Sunday night at 10:00 PM, “In the Loop” will recap the entire weekend featuring the top moments of the 2018 NFL Draft including player/front office interviews, social media reaction highlights and much more.

 

Bears, Matt Nagy working at work-rest balance equation to pull back from annual injury abyss

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USA TODAY

Bears, Matt Nagy working at work-rest balance equation to pull back from annual injury abyss

The Bears are at rest right now. The weeks between the end of the final minicamp and the start of the “season” that runs from the start of training camp through the final game represent the last time most if not all players will be truly 100 percent until early 2019.

In not too many days the Bears will begin their training camp, upshifting the pace, depth and urgency of formation of the 2018 team. Along with that comes the annual dilemma, not unique to the Bears, of balancing practice and strength training to achieve the football maximum while simultaneously staying within a plan calculated to minimize what has become a Bears curse since the departure of the Lovie Smith staff:

Injuries.

Injuries not confined to camp and practices, but also to creating a landscape that results in minimizing injuries throughout the season. And it is a complex equation that the Bears are trying to balance, one that reaches beyond football and involves complicated factors.

Matt Nagy is putting a small fingerprint of his own, instituting an 8:15 a.m. start time for the vast majority of Bourbonnais practices, “to keep guys out of the heat for the most part,” Nagy said.

Practice limitations have been mandated by virtue of collective bargaining agreements. The quirk for the Bears has been that as practice intensity has been legislated downward, injury totals (using players on IR as an apples-to-apples measure) have risen. The debate then has gone to whether lessened practices in fact saves players or ironically results in more injuries in games because players have not been sufficiently hardened for the intensity spike that games are.

Along with that is the need to truly learn schemes and plays in live action.

“I think football is a game, like many games, that you have to get calloused to,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said during minicamp. “It’s like when we go out the first day of training camp with pads on, and guys are hitting a little bit. You’re going to be taken aback and get mad that the guy just hit you too hard. But then by a week or two later, you’re getting hit like that and don’t even realize it. You gotta get calloused.

“So I do believe, even though you couldn’t prove it objectively or quantify it, I do believe that it’s a problem.”

Do the Bears need to rest more?

Nagy has seen the value of rest. Andy Reid, the head coach when Nagy worked in Philadelphia and Kansas City, is a lofty 16-3 in games after off-weeks during his coaching career. Last year his Chiefs did lose a road game post-bye, but Reid was 4-0 in Kansas City’s other games coming off more than the normal six days between games.

Other than the Bears, the five teams with the greatest number of schedule-created off days in the 2017 season appeared to put the time to good use:

Team Off days 2017 record (*playoffs)
Kansas City 12 10-6*
Buffalo 8 9-7*
Chicago 8 5-11
San Diego 8 9-7
Philadelphia 7 13-3*

A case can be made that recovery days are often as important as the effort days, that athletes perform better after their bodies have had even a brief window to heal. Coaches, too. As one Tour de France cyclist told this writer, people go too hard on the easy days, so they don’t fully recover, and too easy on the hard days.

Two-a-day, padded full-go practices were once the norm. Now consecutive padded practices don’t happen in-season, and even in camp, the objective is not as it once was, to weed out, but to develop. “I think back in the day you could say that it was ‘super-hard,’” Nagy said. “Now I’m not sure you’d consider it ‘super-hard.’”

The correlation between rest and results is far from exact. Marc Trestman was adamant about players getting off their feet after practices, and yet few teams sustained the level of injury, particularly on defense, that his Bears did. Lovie Smith’s practices were in the heat of the days, camp and other, with occasional night practices as prep for night games.

Year Coach Camp practice Year-end IR
2012 Lovie Smith 2/2:30 p.m., 7 p.m. (three) 6
2013-14 Marc Trestman 9 a.m., 3:15 p.m. (three) 6, 10
2015-17 John Fox 9:35/11:15 a.m. 12, 21, 19

Apart from any empirical or other scientific information, anecdotal evidence suggests that rest is a significant factor in influencing outcomes. The most elementary casual indicator is the importance teams, coaches and players universally assign to in-season off-weeks. The break period is utilized for self-scouting, which is going on constantly anyway, but also for getting healthy.

If the cluster of a few days off (players are routinely given the off-weekend plus the preceding day or two to themselves) has some demonstrable physical benefits, then any structuring of normal weeks to build in recovery time stands to reason as a step toward healing during a 17-week stretch that leaves no one completely healthy.

But it’s not that simple, particularly in-season. “They’ll have off on Monday, then be back on Tuesday,” Nagy said. “And with the game-planning, you have to build that in, obviously.”

Positive offseason

At the risk of installing a jinx here, the Bears came through the offseason program without apparent severe injuries, and with key players (Leonard Floyd, Kyle Long, Allen Robinson) being brought along conservatively in their returns from ’17 season-ending injuries. At the same time, the requisite work was put in installing a new offense and reigniting a returning defense.

Training camp and preseason now are next-level intensity, and the Bears lost offensive linemen Eric Kush and Jordan Morgan, receiver Cam Meredith and long snapper Pat Scales in the time frame between the start of camp and the start of the regular season.

The objective moves to another level of managing the balance between preserving bodies for when it matters and getting done the work that has to be covered. Some of that was accomplished with some understandings of historical perspectives.

“I told the guys the analogy the other day, the history of training camp in the NFL where there was no such thing as OTA’s years ago,” Fangio said. “But years ago there were six preseason games and two-a-days for all that time. Then it went down to four preseason games and two-a-day’s. And when I say ‘two-a-days,’ they were two-a-days several days in a row.

“Now we’re to one-a-day’s with some legislated days off in there. These [offseason] practices are those practices that we’re missing that teams from the past had gotten. We view them as very, very important, and our guys have had good focus. So we’re working on the same stuff we always have, but I try to tell them that this isn’t an ‘OTA practice;’ this is a training camp for the guys of yesteryear without pads on.”

Tarik Cohen named to NFL.com's All-Under-25 Team

Tarik Cohen named to NFL.com's All-Under-25 Team

The Chicago Bears are entering 2018 with one of the best young backfields in the NFL. The combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will give defenses nightmares all season long, especially when both players are on the field at the same time. Howard brings a physical and grinding running style while Cohen can take it the distance from anywhere on the field.

Cohen's field-flipping ability makes him especially dangerous in the return game. He's so dangerous, in fact, that he was named to NFL.com's All-Under-25 Team as a returner.

Cohen contributed in every which way for the Bears in 2017, bringing an explosive element to Chicago's run game, pass game and return game. He finished in the top 10 in punt-return and kick-return average.

Cohen ended his rookie season with 87 carries for 370 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He added 53 catches for 353 yards and one touchdown as a receiver. He gained 272 yards and a touchdown on punt returns and 583 more on kick returns, bringing his season totals to 1,583 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.

First-year coach Matt Nagy has been smitten with Cohen since the offseason workouts began. He's expected to use the second-year back a lot more than John Fox and Dowell Loggains did in 2017 which should give the 'human joystick' even more opportunities to make the kind of plays that will make him one of the NFL's most feared offensive weapons.