Bears

Postcard from Camp: The center of attention

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USA Today Sports Images

Postcard from Camp: The center of attention

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — While Matt Nagy said he liked what James Daniels put on tape over 44 snaps at center Thursday night, the Bears’ coach said he’s not considering a path to get the second-round rookie into the starting lineup at that position just yet. 

That path would have to begin with Cody Whitehair taking snaps at left guard, clearing the way for Daniels to work with the first-team offensive line as a center. Perhaps the 20-year-old Daniels could work his way into the mix at left guard, which has been manned primarily by Eric Kush during training camp. But for now, it doesn’t sound as if the Bears are willing to re-work their offensive line based on one game and a handful of practices. 

“We like where Cody is,” Nagy said. “Cody is doing a great job. If you go back to OTAs, this is what we said, we said was we want to make sure we keep him honing in on that position, get those reps. The center is like playing quarterback. So if you start moving guys around to different spots now you’re playing with fire, in my opinion.”

Daniels, then, still has plenty to prove in the coming weeks if he is to force his way into the Week 1 starting lineup. While impressive in Cincinnati, we’re still talking about someone who can’t legally drink and played well against second-stringers (and not Bengals star defensive tackle Geno Atkins). So the Bears are keeping Daniels’ development in perspective, and aren’t yet willing to deviate from the plan they set in place the day Daniels was drafted. It would seem fair to read Nagy's comments as a sort of endorsement of Whitehair being the Week 1 center. 

But while that was and is the plan, if Daniels ends the month of August as one of the Bears’ five best offensive linemen, he’ll play in Green Bay or soon thereafter, even if that means another position change for Whitehair. Then again, the Bears moved Whitehair to center just before the 2016 season and that worked out well. Perhaps a late insertion of a natural center into their starting lineup will work even better. 

Saturday Night Lights

The Bears held their final padded (and open to the public) practice of training camp Saturday night at Olivet Nazarene University’s Ward Field, and it wasn’t much of a turnaround for a first-team offense that looked sloppy Thursday night in Cincinnati. 

Granted, a lot of the same guys were held out Saturday as were Thursday, like wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. Jordan Howard was back, though, while Javon Wims left practice with a quad injury. 

“It's a pretty long day for them mentally with the stretch of meetings that we had and then to have a late practice, coming off a day off, and now knowing that we break camp here after tomorrow,” Nagy said. “I thought the energy was decent. Could've been a little better. But at the same time, we've got some guys who have some tired legs and just like all the other teams that are in this spot.”

The Bears will hold a shorter, lighter practice Sunday afternoon before breaking camp and heading to Denver on Tuesday for two joint practices with the Broncos leading up to playing them in preseason game No. 3 Aug. 18.

Briefly

With third-string running back Benny Cunningham nursing a shoulder injury, the Bears on Saturday waived offensive lineman Caleb Johnson and signed running back Knile Davis. Nagy knows Davis well from their time together in Kansas City (2013-2016), in which Davis scored 13 touchdowns — 10 rushing, two returning and one receiving. 

The 26-year-old Davis did not play in the NFL in 2017 after being waived from the Pittsburgh Steelers on cut-down day. 

Bears have fifth-best odds to win Super Bowl LIII

Bears have fifth-best odds to win Super Bowl LIII

The Bears pulled out a huge 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football at Soldier Field, extending their NFC North lead.

The offense looked great, the defense looked dangerous, and special teams came through in a big way. The Bears were clicking on all cylinders.

Not only are the Bears in a good position to win the division, but oddsmakers like their chances at winning the Super Bowl. (Yes, Super Bowl.)

According to footballoutsiders.com, the Bears have the fifth-best odds to win Super Bowl LIII.

Check it out:

Team Percentage
Kansas City 34.1%
LA Rams 22.3%
New Orleans 11.8%
Pittsburgh 8.1%
Chicago 6.2%

How about that?

Now, there's a lot of season left to play, but if the Bears keep playing like they did on Sunday night, their chances are pretty darn good.

The Bears will have the opportunity to host one of the teams ahead of them, the Los Angeles Rams, on Dec. 9, a game that got flexed to Sunday Night Football in Week 14. Will that be a preview of the NFC Championship game?

Time will tell.

The fun part is, we get to sit back and watch it all unfold.

Bears extend NFC North lead with Week 11 win over Vikings

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USA TODAY

Bears extend NFC North lead with Week 11 win over Vikings

The Bears have gotten to 7-3 a few times in the last decade, but something about 2018 feels different.

They reached 7-3 after two-straight losses in 2012, marking the beginning of the end of Lovie Smith’s final season in Chicago. They were 7-3 the year before too, but Jay Cutler went on injured reserve after that 10th game.

In 2018, 7-3 is good for first place in the NFC North for a Bears team rising into contention, and Sunday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings only extended that division lead.

Neither the Green Bay Packers nor Detroit Lions are out of contention yet, though.

Aaron Rodgers and company have a chance to get back on track with a Sunday night matchup against the Vikings, perhaps their last chance to gain ground in a division slipping away.

Their Thursday night loss to the Seattle Seahawks kept them in third place in the NFC North.

The Lions kept hope alive with a nail-biting victory over the Carolina Panthers. They were a Cam Newton two-point conversion away from giving up on the season.

The weekend as a whole was fruitful for the Bears, establishing themselves as a legitimate contender and a clear front-runner for the division.