Bears

Check out the 2012 All-American team

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Check out the 2012 All-American team

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Alabama is No. 1 when it comes to All-Americans.The second-ranked Crimson Tide placed four players on The Associated Press All-America team released Tuesday. Among them was center Barrett Jones, who became a two-time first-team selection.No other team had more than two players selected to the first team. The Tide also led with six players chosen to all three teams.Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Stanford and Florida were second with four players on the three teams, though linebacker Manti Te'o was the only Fighting Irish player to make the first team.Alabama faces top-ranked Notre Dame in the BCS championship game Jan. 7.Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was the first-team quarterback.Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones also became two-time All-Americans.Nine Southeastern Conference players made the first team, more than any other conference. The Pac-12 was second with six players on the first team. No other conference had more than two.The team was voted on by a panel of 16 AP college football poll voters.Barrett Jones, a senior who made the All-America team as a tackle last season, was joined on the first team by Alabama teammates guard Chance Warmack, linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner. Offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was picked to the second team and quarterback AJ McCarron was selected to the third team.Te'o, the Heisman finalists and winner of seven other awards -- including the Maxwell, Nagurski and Butkus -- is the first Notre Dame defensive player to be an AP All-American since defensive back Shane Walton in 2002.Manziel is the first freshman to make the first team at quarterback. On Saturday, the redshirt freshman know as Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.Manziel set an SEC record with 4,600 total yards to rank second in the nation.Heisman finalist Collin Klein of Kansas State was the second-team quarterback.Ball repeated as an All-American, despite a slow start to the season and some early injuries. The senior is seventh in the nation in rushing at 133 yards per game, scored 21 touchdowns, and set the major college football record for career touchdowns. He has 82 going into the Rose Bowl.Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, the nation's leading rusher at 146 yards per game, was the other first-team running back.The receivers were Southern California's Marqise Lee, who leads the nation in catches (112) and was second in yards receiving (1,680), and Baylor's Terrance Williams, who leads in yards with 1,764.Stanford's Zach Ertz was the tight end.Joining Jones and Warmack on the offensive line were two junior tackles projected to be high first-round NFL draft picks: Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Michigan's Taylor Lewan."Team goals are bigger than individual goals, but one of my personal goals was to be an All-American and it's an unbelievable feeling to reach that goal," Lewan said Tuesday.North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper was the other first-team guard.West Virginia's Tavon Austin was selected as the all-purpose player, a perfect description of the do-it-all speedster.Austin was primarily a receiver and racked up 1,259 yards through the air. Late in the season, coach Dana Holgorsen used Austin as a running back and against Oklahoma he the senior set a school-record with 344 yards rushing. He finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 230 per game, and returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.Tulane's Cairo Santos was the All-American kicker after making all 21 of his field goal attempts.On the defensive side, Te'o and Mosley were joined at linebacker by the other two-time All-American. Jones followed-up his sensational sophomore season with 12.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.Another SEC pass rusher highlighted the defensive line.South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had 13.5 sacks, tied for the most in the nation, playing in only 11 games. He'll matchup against Lewan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1."He's very explosive player who plays every play to the whistle and never takes a snap off," Lewan said. "It's a great opportunity to see where I'm at and where he's at and I'm excited about it. But it's not about me or him, it's about the University of Michigan playing South Carolina at the Outback Bowl."Florida State Bjoern Werner was the other end. He also had 13 sacks.At defensive tackle was a pair of Pac-12 players: Utah's Star Lotulelei and Arizona State's Will Sutton, who was the conference defensive player of the year.In the secondary, Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, who had seven interceptions, was the cornerback opposite Milliner.Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was voted to the first team after leading the nation with eight interceptions, including three returned for touchdown. Florida's Matt Elam was the other safety.The punter was Ryan Allen, who won his second straight Ray Guy Award last week.

Rob Gronkowski "highly unlikely" to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski "highly unlikely" to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday after despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”