Bears

Bears have Alshon Jeffery injured, missing work – again

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Bears have Alshon Jeffery injured, missing work – again

For the third time in barely four months, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is on an injury list with a lower-body problem, this time a groin strain suffered in practice on Wednesday and which kept him out of practice on Thursday.

Also on the injury report for Thursday were not-practicing Pernell McPhee (knee), Eddie Royal (knee) and defensive Mitch Unrein (illness). Limited in practice were Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), Matt Forte (knee), Hroniss Grasu (neck), Shea McClellin (knee) Tracy Porter (hip) and Antrel Rolle (ankle).

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Jeffery, who was walking ostensibly normally in the locker room both Wednesday and Thursday, missed all four preseason games with a calf injury in training camp. He missed Games 2-5 with a hamstring strain before coming back with games of 8-10-10 catches for 147-116-151 yards.

Quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t seem overly concerned about being without Jeffery, which he has been for half of this season. “I don't know,” Cutler said. “He'll be OK. If he can't go, we've had life without him and we'll figure it out with the guys we've got.”

The trouble is that the Bears, who did defeat Oakland and Kansas City without Jeffery, and also without Royal at Kansas City, are playing the St. Louis Rams, who are Top 5 against the pass. Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego are in the bottom half of the NFL against the pass.

There simply are things that Jeffery can do, and what the offense can do with him, that they cannot without him.

“It’s nice when he’s available to go because obviously he’s an impact player for us,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “But we’ve got a lot of guys that step up when he’s not in.”

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The reality is that plays can be called with Jeffery that can’t be with other receivers. In the San Diego game, when Cutler threw a pick-6, Jeffery firmly stated that he wanted the ball on a “go” route, which Gase obligingly called, and the Bears had a 47-yard completion.

The reason the play was both called and succeeded: Jeffery. Gase and all offensive coordinators don’t usually take play requests. But “when ‘17’ makes a request, you usually have a pretty good feeling about him making a play on the ball,” Gase said. “There’s been a couple times where he’s suggested some things we’ve gotten to and he’s made plays. I know Marty [Bennett] has made some suggestions we’ve gone to and were really good suggestions.

“So I feel like those two guys, they’ve played a lot of ball, made a lot of plays, so I feel confident when they bring a suggestion to the table.”

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.