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Around the NFL Draft: Checking out Bears' competition

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Around the NFL Draft: Checking out Bears' competition

Two of the Bears' division rivals appeared to do a good job addressing positions of need during this week's draft. The other definitely addressed one need, but the other choices in their first five rounds were a bit curious. But based on his history of draft success, we probably shouldn't doubt Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

A quick look:

Green Bay

With the losses of starting cornerback Tramon Williams and third corner Davon House to free agency, Thompson followed up last year's first-round safety HaHa Clinton-Dix with Arizona State safety/corner Damarious Randall in the first round and Miami (Ohio) corner (and four-year basketball point guard) Quentin Rollins in the second.

[MORE: Re-drafting: A Bears tradition GM Ryan Pace must end]

Stanford wideout/return man Ty Montgomery was the latest target brought aboard for Aaron Rodgers. They hope fourth-round outside linebacker Jake Ryan of Michigan can help offset the losses to free agency of A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore. Once their offensive staff is done shaping, tutoring and coaching UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, it'll be interesting what that finished product looks like. Others presumed areas of need not addressed in the first five rounds were tight end and defensive tackle.

Detroit

The Lions' greatest need seemed to be defensive tackle following the free agent exits of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Those blows were somewhat softened by the trade for Haloti Ngata and signing of Saints free agent Tyrunn Walker. Martin Mayhew got around to the position in the fourth round with Gabe Wright of Auburn (they'll also be turning to last year's fifth-rounder, Caraun Reid). They addressed needs on the offensive line by selecting guard Laken Tomlinson (from Lane Tech High School) to go with the center, guard and tackle they've selected over the first three rounds the past three drafts. Reggie Bush is replaced by Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (second round) to pair with Joique Bell. Their cornerback need was filled in the third round with Stanford's Alex Carter.

Minnesota

Let's go down Mike Zimmer's draft checklist for what he's turning into a formidable defense (which already ranked 14th last season) after using his top pick a year ago on linebacker Anthony Barr:

[SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]

Linebacker (again) — UCLA's Eric Kendricks (2nd round). Cornerback to pair opposite Xavier Rhodes — Michigan State's Trae Waynes (11th overall), widely regarded as the best corner in the draft. Defensive end — LSU's Danielle Hunter (3rd round). Guard — none, but rolling the dice with raw, but beastly tackle T.J. Clemmings of Pitt (whose first- or second-round value dropped with a foot injury), could provide push for Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt. The fifth-round provided potential backup, but undersized, targets for Teddy Bridgewater at wide receiver and tight end (Maryland's Stefon Diggs and MyCole Pruitt of Southern Illinois).

Programming note: Chris, Jim Miller and Dave Wannstedt will have more on the Bears' first draft under Ryan Pace with a 30-minute special Sunday night on Comcast SportsNet, airing at 10:30, or after the conclusion of "Blackhawks Postgame Live.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: It's Packers week!

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: It's Packers week!

Adam Jahns, Chris Bleck and Jay Cohen join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Former MLB GM turned analyst Jim Bowden has some good news for White Sox fans. He believes that the South Siders are now the frontrunners to land Bryce Harper. Could this actually happen? And how much would his signing turn around the fortunes of the franchise?

7:00- It's Packers Week. The guys discuss how satisfying it would be for the Bears to clinch the division against their ancient rivals.

10:30- Mitch Trubisky returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury and threw three picks. Should fans be concerned? Could he hold them back from making the Super Bowl?

15:30- Jim Boylen gets a vote of confidence from his boss. John Paxson supports the extra practicing but is the Bulls president missing the players' point?

20:00- It looks like Joe Maddon might have another new coach on his bench. With Brandon Hyde heading to manage the Orioles, should the Cubs name David Ross their bench coach?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Focused on himself, Mitch Trubisky isn’t here to talk about Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers

Focused on himself, Mitch Trubisky isn’t here to talk about Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers

Mitch Trubisky had zero interest on Wednesday in fielding a line of questions about his high school nickname, which was bestowed upon him thanks to a comparison to a certain former Green Bay Packers quarterback. The days of him being “Favre” are, as he put it, in the past. 

“I’m done with that nickname,” Trubisky said. “No one calls me that anymore. I’m just focused on playing this week and doing my job.”

Trubisky clearly wasn’t thrilled with that line of questioning, and Matt Nagy didn’t entertain it, either. This is a Bears team with far more important things ahead of them as they stare down a game against the Green Bay Packers in which they can accomplish two season-defining things: First, clinching the NFC North; and second, effectively eliminating the Packers from playoff contention. 

Trubisky was sharply critical of himself after Sunday’s 15-6 win over the Los Angeles Rams, a game in which the Bears won but he had, by passer rating, the worst game of his career (33.3). He emerged Wednesday with a clear head about his bad game, citing sloppy footwork and an over-eagerness to be back on the field for the first time since Nov. 18. 

Rust from that layoff, Trubisky said, was not a factor. 

“I think that's just making excuses, saying that I could be rusty,” Trubisky said. “Bottom line is I just came out and I didn't make the throws that I needed to make. I didn't do my job necessary when my team needed me to do my job and I know that I can play better.”

The more specific root of Trubisky’s problem, he said, was trying to do too much against a Wade Philips defense that deployed plenty of zone coverage. That took away the opportunities for Trubisky to make a big play, but he tried anyway, sailing two throws for interceptions while getting picked off on an aggressive third-and-10 throw, too. 

Along those lines, too — the primetime Sunday Night Football stage wasn’t why he tried to do too much. It goes back to an over-exuberance for being back on the field for the first time in three weeks. 

“I should have just had a more focused mindset of, OK, I just need to do my job,” Trubisky said. “I just need to find completions. I just need to catch the snap, do my footwork and get the ball to my playmakers rather than being too amped up about being out there with my guys and trying to make all-world plays. I just need to go out there and do my job.”

This is about as encouraging of an explanation from Trubisky as possible, in a few ways. The issues had something to do with his layoff, but not necessarily rust. And they didn’t happen because the moment was too big for a guy who will play in a few more big moments come January. 

The word “shoulder” was also not mentioned during Trubisky’s media session, too. 

While Trubisky was clearly frustrated with play against the Rams, he made sure to note the most important thing from Sunday was the Bears emerging with a win. Adding to that, Nagy said Trubisky’s positive attitude didn’t waver on the sidelines, which is important to note. 

“He's the leader of this offense and the guys look to him for any frustration, any type of ability of him to not show leadership or any of that, we don't want it,” Nagy said. “He hasn't done it.”

The lasting impression from Trubisky’s media session on Wednesday was this: Focus. He came across as willing to not only engage in self-criticism, but willing to be specific about it (which, it should be said, is not uncommon for him this year). But anything general, or about a topic he didn’t think was relevant for this weekend’s game against the Packers? He didn’t have time for that. 

And, at least publicly, that presents as a quarterback frustrated with what he showed against the Rams, but focused on exactly what he needs to do to be better on Sunday against the Packers. 

The Favre thing is one example. How he answered a question about Aaron Rodgers — and what he might admire about him — is another. 

“I don't know, I haven't really watched much on him this year,” Trubisky said. “I’m really just focused on continuing to learn this offense and focused on what I got to do and my job this year. So just continue to learn and master this offense and focus on myself and my teammates. Obviously he's had a lot of success, but I'm just focused on what I got to do for my team this year right now.”

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