Bears

Bears In-Foe: A well-rested Eagles D to face Bears Monday night

Bears In-Foe: A well-rested Eagles D to face Bears Monday night

Under former coach Chip Kelly's round-the-clock hurry-up offense, the Eagles defense needed an ample supply of oxygen masks on the sideline. Their units spent the most time on the field the last three years.

So what happened Sunday, courtesy of the Carson Wentz-led offense and the Cleveland Browns being the... Browns, behind a bad (and now injured) Robert Griffin III? They were on the field less than 21 minutes.

Former Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz took over a unit that ranked 30th in the NFL last season, yet has some very good parts in moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and his trademark "Wide 9" setup.

The underrated, overlooked Fletcher Cox was recognized by the team in June to the tune of a $102.6 million payday ($63 million guaranteed) over six years. After collecting just 12.5 sacks his first three seasons, he soared to 9.5 a year ago, and will attack more now as Schwartz moves him from end to tackle alongside athletic run-stuffer Bennie Logan. Schwartz also moves former 3-4 outside linebackers Brandon Graham (6.5 sacks last season) and Connor Barwin (who's posted 11.5- and 14.5-sack seasons) to defensive end. Former first- and second-round picks Marcus Smith and Vinny Curry remain in backup roles.

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Nigel Bradham followed Schwartz from Buffalo to join a speedy group of linebackers, joining Mychal Kendricks around middle man Jordan Hicks, whose great rookie campaign a year ago was cut short by a torn pectoral muscle. He'd otherwise have been in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. Once the Lions finally let veteran Stephen Tullock go, he reunited with Schwartz in a backup role.

Pro Bowl strong safety Malcolm Jenkins has elevated his game since leaving New Orleans a couple of years ago and now teams with small but physical former Ram Rodney McLeod, who signed a five-year, $35 million free agent deal.

One of Schwartz's ex-Bills cornerbacks, starter Leodis McKelvin, will be sidelined Monday night by a hamstring injury sustained versus the Browns.  So the decision on who fills in falls between two LSU products, seventh-round rookie Jalen Mills (who delivered the hit that injured RGIII Sunday), or another former Bill, veteran Ron Brooks. Nolan Carroll is physical in man-press on the opposite side and was having a good 2015 before breaking his ankle.

Special teams

Darren Sproles has gone to the last two Pro Bowls as a returner, and averaged 15 yards on four punts Sunday, so the Bears' coverage units have to be on-point, to say the least. He led the league in punt return average last season and has two return touchdowns each of the past two years, though rookie Wendell Smallwood returned one kick against Cleveland. Kicker Caleb Sturgis started slow but finished strong in 2015, and missed a 46-yard field goal attempt versus the Browns while converting two others. 36-year-old punter Donnie Jones was second in the league a year ago with 23 fair catches, while ranking sixth in net average, seventh in gross.

Join Chris & Dan Jiggetts from Halas Hall at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on CSN Chicago, for "Bears Huddle" and "Bears Blitz." You'll hear from Bears coaches and players after practice, previewing Monday Night's home opener.

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

All signs this week have pointed to Mitch Trubisky returning for the Bears’ Week 7 matchup against New Orleans, which should be exciting news for Chicago fans (right?).

Cam Jordan and the Saints defense, for their part, won’t be happy to see Mitch under center, but maaaaybe not for the reason you’d think. In an appearance on NFL Total Access this afternoon, Jordan was asked by Lindsay Rhodes what the difference between facing Trubisky and backup QB Chase Daniel is for New Orleans, and he laid out a pretty compelling case for preferring Daniel:

 

“I’ve been meaning to hit Chase ever since I got to the league,” Jordan said. “I’ve already hit Mitch.”

Jordan was quick to clarify that he “love[s] Chase” from his days sharing a locker room with him in New Orleans early in each of their careers. Daniel backed up Drew Brees from 2010-2012, overlapping with Jordan’s rookie and sophomore seasons (2011-2012). 

“He brought so much juice to our locker room when he was here,” Jordan continued. “I can’t wait for a chance to hit him. That’s how I show love to my friends.”

Daniel took the rib in stride, tweeting out a light-hearted response to the clip of Jordan a few hours later:


Jordan responded to that by saying he has "nothing but admiration" for Daniel and implored him to be the Brett Favre to his Michael Strahan. (Favre, you'll remember, famously crumpled in a heap at the feet of Strahan in Week 17 of the 2001 season, with Strahan needing only one sack to break the single-season record. That record of 22.5 sacks still stands to this day.) Chicago fans would certainly sign on for Daniel granting Jordan's wish, in the event of a blowout Bears victory.  

Whether it’s Trubisky or Daniel leading the Bears’ huddles on Sunday, though, the Saints defense will prove a formidable matchup, and Jordan is a big reason why. The four-time Pro Bowler has already racked up five sacks (tied for eighth in the NFL) and nine quarterback hits six games into the season.

Optimistically, the hope is Jordan never gets the chance to set his sights on any Bears quarterback this Sunday. Unrealistic? Definitely. But one can dream.

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Alvin Kamara officially out for Week 7 game at Bears

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USA TODAY

Alvin Kamara officially out for Week 7 game at Bears

The Bears are getting good news on their injury report, but the Saints definitely are not.

While it sounds like Mitchell Trubisky will return for the Bears, the Saints will be missing both of their backfield starters for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

Quarterback Drew Brees was already known to miss the game, but now running back Alvin Kamara is officially listed as out with an ankle injury. Kamara had 11 carries for 31 yards and seven receptions for 35 yards in last week’s 13-6 win at Jacksonville, but won’t take on the Bears.

The 24-year-old has 373 rushing yards and 276 receiving yards this season.

Latavius Murray is expected to fill in for Kamara as the starter. Murray has the same 4.3 yards per carry average as Kamara so far this season.

Brees has been out since injuring his thumb in a Week 2 loss at the Rams. Teddy Bridgewater has gone 4-0 as the starting quarterback, but won’t have the threat of Kamara behind him on Sunday.

On top of that, starting tight end Jared Cook is also out with an ankle injury. Cook has 15 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns this season.

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