Bears

Bulls' opener coincides with deadline for Gibson's deal

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Bulls' opener coincides with deadline for Gibson's deal

Hours after the Bulls' regular-season opener is over, another Halloween subplot will reach its conclusion. The looming deadline for the organization to reach an agreement for a long-term contract extension with Taj Gibson is 11 p.m. Central, or just after the fourth-year power forward and his teammates will have filed out of the United Center.

By then, Gibson will have an idea of whether his primary motivation, aside from helping the Bulls have a successful season, will be to prove to the Bulls and other teams around the league that he's worthy of a contract approaching the eight-figure range next summer or showing the team that selected him 26th overall back in 2009 that he was indeed worthy of them rewarding him with a new deal.

While the Bulls remain hopeful Gibson will accept an offer prior to Wednesday night's deadline, according to a person familiar with the situation, the two sides still had some ground to make up as of Tuesday evening. If Gibson isn't locked up, the Bulls expect to match competing offers from opposing teams in the event that he hits the open market as a restricted free agent.

Unlike the departed Omer Asik, a second-round draft pick, teams won't be able to use a "poison pill" against the Bulls, but with a strong season, it wouldn't be shocking to see Gibson presented with an offer sheet that the Bulls find unreasonable. The underrated Gibson is highly regarded around the league and raised his profile with his stint with the USA Select Team in Las Vegas over the summer, practicing against the eventual Olympic gold-medal winners, and according to a source, the likes of San Antonio and Orlando, along with his hometown Knicks and Nets, would be potential suitors.

Apart from Gibson, the one other early-season transaction the Bulls are monitoring is acquiring a minimum-salary contract when they have the cap space to add a 14th player next month. Veteran wings such as recently-waived Quentin Richardson, a Chicago native, are among those under consideration, a league source told CSNChicago.com, but the Bulls also have the option of waiting until later in the season and signing two players if an addition doesn't seem necessary early on in the campaign.

A significant first practice goes well for three Bears critical to 2018 success

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USA TODAY

A significant first practice goes well for three Bears critical to 2018 success

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — It’s a major Bears story until it isn’t, and in Thursday’s first practice of training camp ’18, the story was that Leonard Floyd, Kyle Long and Allen Robinson weren’t the story. 

Not even the weather was a story, as coach Matt Nagy continued the two-hour practice without interruption despite repeated torrential downpours. Whether this represented a soggy, wet chapter of Nagy’s campaign of physical practices and getting his team “calloused” is a question, but “It's just a part of what we wanted to do,” Nagy said, with a bit of a smile. “We weren't going inside. We were coming outside unless that (lightning/tornado) horn went off. So it was a good day. The guys fought through it.”

Getting through it was of franchise-grade import for three linchpins coming off significant injuries that cost them all or part of their 2017 seasons. All had been largely held out of minicamps and training camps, making Friday a de facto shakedown cruise for three players the Bears need at the elite levels projected for them.

Floyd practiced without the large brace he’d worn during minicamp work and which he admitted was an impediment to performance. Bears medical and training staff and Floyd have been pointing to this moment as the first step toward full health for the regular season.

“I basically, this whole offseason, I've been working on getting my leg right,” Floyd said on Friday. “I’m not really looking into who's playing where. I've been looking to get back healthy. ... Yeah, I'm able to go full force.”

Floyd’s pursuit speed was noteworthy as he ran down several offensive players with the football.

Players were not in pads, but Robinson similarly flashed, at one point making a difficult catch of a ball slightly behind him as he was tumbling to the ground. If he was holding anything back, it was not apparent in his cuts, routes and runs after catches.

“I feel great,” Robinson said. “It's been a process that we've taken a little bit slower, but I think that was for the best. It just was all about getting me ready for this time right here, so I feel great. I feel 100 percent.”

Long has been buffeted by injuries requiring surgeries over the past two years. The setbacks have taken him down from the Pro Bowl level at which he played his first three seasons.

But he turns 30 in December and is entering his sixth NFL season having missed 14 games the past two years after just one the first three.

“I’m feeling great,” Long said. “It’s really a lot of fun to get out here with my teammates and start camp without any limitations and be able to contribute from Day 1. It feels good. I spent a lot of time with our training staff. I got to know Andre Tucker really well, our new head trainer. He has done a tremendous job.

“You know, it’s Day 1 and I was out there at practice, and I got to hit other guys, and that was fun. I don’t look much into psychological hurdles. But a physical hurdle? Yes, it was. I had a lot going on this offseason. I’m just really happy to be out here.”

All was not good news physically for the Bears as inside linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback/special teamer Sherrick McManis were held out of practice after hamstring issues surfaced in their pre-camp physicals. Nagy said neither was considered serious but gave no timetable for their returns.

WATCH: Kyle Long says Ryan Pace has done a great job adding young talent to Bears roster

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USA Today

WATCH: Kyle Long says Ryan Pace has done a great job adding young talent to Bears roster

Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long met with the media after practice on Friday and discussed a variety of topics ranging from his health to the young talent GM Ryan Pace has managed to add to the roster.

Long, 29, is now one of the elder statesmen on the Bears. And he's not old by offensive linemen standards. Still, he said he's at the point in his career where he's not quite understanding the pop culture references made by his younger teammates, a sign that he's now entered that next stage of his career.

Have a listen to Long's complete comments here: