Bears

Bears-coached North team falls to South in Senior Bowl

Bears-coached North team falls to South in Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Davis Webb looked for Josh Reynolds on his initial third-down play Saturday, found him again on his next pass and a third time for a long touchdown.

It's just like the California quarterback predicted the night before the Senior Bowl, when that connection with the Texas A&M wide receiver helped the South to a 16-15 victory over the North.

"I told Josh (Friday) night, 'You were my favorite outside receiver all week. If we get 1 on 1, I'm going your way so you'd better win,'" Webb said. "And he did. He won multiple times."

Webb spread the ball around to other receivers like Mississippi State's Fred Ross as well. The Pac-12 Conference's leading passer directed scoring drives on all three of his possessions while completing 11 of 16 passes for 165 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown strike on a well-thrown fade to Reynolds. Reynolds had six catches for 96 yards, most of them on that first drive with Webb.

Nate Peterman of Pittsburgh had a similarly strong passing performance for the North in the showcase game for senior NFL prospects that actually featured late drama. Peterman fired a 6-yard scoring pass to East Carolina's Zay Jones with 1:51 left but the North went for two points and a potential lead.

Under heavy pressure from Chattanooga's Keionta Davis, Peterman's pass was deflected and intercepted by BYU's Harvey Langi. The South ran out the clock from there.

The week was about auditioning for NFL teams, more than winning, but Peterman said he wanted that last completion "very bad."

"You're always competitive," said Peterman, who was 16-of-23 passing for 153 yards and played most of the game. "To say you can drive down and win the Senior Bowl in the last seconds, that would have been pretty cool. We didn't get it but it was a great experience still."

Webb was the game's overall MVP after passing for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns last season as a graduate transfer from Texas Tech.

He led the South to a touchdown and field goal in the final three minutes of the first half. He and Reynolds proved a prolific combination on the touchdown drive, moving downfield on connections of 21 — on a third-and-10 play — and 13 yards before the touchdown.

Game rules require teams to go for two points in the second quarter, and the South's attempt failed to keep the halftime lead at 9-3.

Coaching staffs

Hue Jackson and his Cleveland Browns staff led the South team, and have the first, 12th and 33rd overall picks in the April draft. The Chicago Bears' John Fox, who has the No. 3 pick, coached the North. They're mostly looking for players beyond their top pick in Mobile, since stars like Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen turned down invitations and Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is a junior and not eligible.

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

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USA TODAY

Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

If Mitchell Trubisky has the kind of break out year in his second season under Matt Nagy that Bears fans are hoping for, he should have no problem cashing an OVER 26.5 passing TDs ticket for bettors who want to back him.

Per Bet Chicago, Caesars is rolling out division props and they set Trubisky’s touchdown pass total for 2019 at 26.5 and his pass yard total at 3,744.5.

While both those marks would be career highs for Trubisky, this number will surely be seen as a slight by the hometown fans and continue to add to the polarizing nature of the quarterback formerly known as the Pretty Boy Assassin.

In Chicago, and if you’re team Mitch, this number is ridiculously low and you’re probably already pounding the over.

Outside of Chicago, and with some analytical support, there’s a lot of doubt about Trubisky’s future as a viable option as an NFL starter, so I’d guess the Pro Football Focus crowd is probably gonna take the under.

We rolled out some props of our own on the Under Center podcast last week including:

Will Mitch Trubisky pass for 10 or more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (Including playoffs for both)

26.5 regular season passing touchdowns probably gives Kimbrel the edge, but it’s right in range. 

And that Trubisky – Kimbrel prop prompted this bold response from our own Bears insider JJ Stankevitz:

I don’t think I’m in the 40 club with my guy JJ, but the OVER certainly feels like the move here. At least it better be if the Bears are gonna make any sort of NFC North title defense.