Bears go back to high school, Jeremy Langford nursing hurt foot

Bears go back to high school, Jeremy Langford nursing hurt foot

Tracy Porter, Kevin White and the rest of the Bears didn’t indicate whether they planned on attending prom or Turnabout, but a first-time Saturday night practice at a local high school was something players enjoyed, for some the first time they’d been to a high school stadium since the last time they’d played in theirs growing up.

“I love it,” said White, only four years out of high school himself. “It reminded me of high school playing under the lights. Got the band playing, the music going, the fans…I love it.”

For Porter, the back-to-the-future moment was a wee bit further back.

“I don’t want to show my age or anything,” he said, smiling, “but man, I haven’t been to a high school stadium since I was in high school in 2004. To come back and have the guys here at Warren Township, it was great. They came out and gave us a great atmosphere to practice in and it was just a different feel than being at Halas all the time and come out and let those guys see us practice, it was big.”

The Bears held practice at Warren High School before a crowd estimated at about 6,000 and early reactions were that the organization hopes to repeat at different schools in coming years.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“It was great,” said coach John Fox. “Actually I told the players that if I can remember high school, anybody there can. But it brings back memories. It was a good environment. I’d like to thank these [Warren] guys for having us out here. They did a nice job presenting it.”

The 90-minute session was notable for the most part because No. 1 running back Jeremy Langford was held out with a foot injury suffered Thursday night in the loss to the New England Patriots. Langford was wearing a walking boot on his left foot but was able to be semi-running between areas of practice.

Right guard Kyle Long also was among the non-practicers, given the evening off with a sore shoulder. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who underwent a knee scope last week, attended practice without crutches or wearing any special knee support.

“At the end of the day, if they’re best served to not be out here, then they’re not out here,” Fox said. “You can call it precautionary, but it’s just doing what’s smart.”

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

USA Today

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

Plenty of NFL players will use the league’s mandated five-week summer break to play a little golf as a way to relax and recharge for the grind of training camp and regular season. But you won’t find many players who take golf more seriously than Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. 

Which is a little ironic on the surface, right? Gabriel’s nickname is “Turbo,” after all. 

“Yeah, that’s very weird when I think about it,” Gabriel laughed. “It’s not a sport to where you’re running and jumping, and I wouldn’t say not doing anything really athletic — it’s more mental than anything. 

“But I feel like it kind of helps me football-wise in the sense of kind of focus. Like dialing in on that swing, keeping that same swing rhythm pattern, not getting too frustrated after I just sliced a drive or go O.B. on the driver. So it’s helping me.”

Gabriel had played sporadically earlier in his life, and said his father golfs, but didn’t get hooked by the sport until last April while watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. He bought his first set of nice clubs after that remarkable weekend in Augusta and frequently posts videos of his swing to his Instagram account.  

So it’s become a serious hobby of his — “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t practice,” he said. It’s also something he and his wife do together. 

Though he admitted his wife is a better golfer than he is. 

“She’s not trying to crush the ball, she’s not trying to do too much, but she keeps that consistent same rhythm, same swing, same follow-through every time,” Gabriel said. “Me, I might see the hole is probably 180 (yards) out, I mean, I just want to crush it on the green. And that’s when everything goes wrong.”

Still, for someone who’s only been seriously golfing for about two months, that Gabriel said he can consistently hit his drives 240 yards is rather impressive (being an exceptional athlete, certainly, has to help). But this isn’t some casual love affair with golf — it’s a legitimate way for Gabriel to take his mind off football while staying sharp mentally and doing something he’s quickly grown to genuinely enjoy doing. 

“It’s relaxing, just playing 18 holes — I’m a walker, I like walking,” Gabriel said. “Eighteen holes kind of figuring out your swing, what you did wrong, you know what I mean, just being on the golf course, relaxing, the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been hitting them pretty straight, I’ve been putting them pretty good, so I guess I’m catching on quick. 

“But every time I ask a golfer, I mean, how long did it take for you guys to get a consistent swing, they say 20 years. I mean, I got that to look forward to.”  

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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