Bears

For Bears QB Matt Barkley, that NFL 'moment' is at hand

For Bears QB Matt Barkley, that NFL 'moment' is at hand

Training camps and preseasons are the de facto regular seasons for quarterbacks not positioned to be starters, at least at that point in their career or teams’ situations. What they show in those snapshots can let them keep a roster spot where they are, or land them somewhere else if they’ve managed to show something.

For Matt Barkley, an accidental starter for the Bears now because of an almost eerie string of quarterback injuries (Connor Shaw, Brian Hoyer, now Jay Cutler), his moment is at hand.

Barkley, once a promising quarterback prospect coming out of USC and landing with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 draft, has never started an NFL game. He has only played in five in four years, and didn’t play at all in 2015.

Now he has a chance to start as many as six games, with Cutler down with a shoulder injury. Barkley is playing for nothing less than his career, whether it continues with the Bears next season when they presumably bring in a young successor to Cutler, or somewhere else.

“When you look at it, what reality means in my shoes, yeah, big things could be ahead,” Barkley said this week. “I don't want to blow this up out of proportion and look back and say woulda, coulda, shoulda and all that stuff.

“If I just make the most, give my all right now for this week, this one week, and then move on to the next week right after that, that's how I'm approaching this.”

The unfortunate thing for Barkley is that he steps into an offense missing its two starting wide receivers (Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White), starting tight end (Zach Miller) and as many as three starting offensive linemen.

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Evaluating Barkley won’t be particularly easy. Then again, if he builds something with the tools at hand… .

“In the NFL as a backup quarterback, you don’t get a lot of work with the first team, obviously, because the starter’s taking those reps,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “So we pay attention to how he does in scout team, and try to find out his strengths and weaknesses that way.

“The challenge is, you don’t get him in training camp, you don’t have him in OTAs, so the foundation of the system, they don’t have. Matt understands the game plan this week, his preparation – he’s a pro — but there are some things that he’s rep’ing for the first time this week. Practice has been a challenge that way, to see what he’s comfortable with, and really try to find out what he does well and how we can put him in a situation to succeed.”

Backups have made epic splashes and parlayed those moments into a meaningful NFL future: Matt Cassel, New England; Tom Brady, New England; Dak Prescott, Dallas; Matt Flynn, Green Bay, to name a few.

Barkley had a surprise “moment” when Hoyer was injured in Green Bay and Barkley needed to play the second half. It wasn’t pretty; 6-for-16 passing, 2 interceptions.

But at that moment, he did make a positive impression.

“One thing that stands out for Matt is poise,” Loggains said. “Even when he had to play when he came in the Green Bay game, he hadn’t had one practice rep with our offense outside of scout team. He did a really good job. hHe’s poised in the pocket. We’re excited to see what he’s like when he gets a full week of preparation. And trying to adjust the scheme to fit him.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How many games should Myles Garrett miss?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How many games should Myles Garrett miss?

Sam Panayotovich, Seth Gruen and Cam Ellis join Laurence Holmes on the panel.

0:00- Myles Garrett gets an indefinite suspension following Thursday night's ugly, helmet-swinging brawl between the Browns and Steelers. How many games should he miss including games in 2020?

7:50- The list of team that will attend Colin Kaepernick's workout has increased. The Bears have not confirmed whether or not they will be there. Why wouldn't they go?

12:30- Yu Darvish talks about sign stealing and also said he noticed something unusual at Miller Park. Christian Yelich fired back. The panel discusses the latest flashpoint in the Cubs-Brewers rivalry.

16:00- Harlem Globetrotters star "Big Easy" drops by the studio. He talks about what it's like to be a Globetrotter and entertaining thousands of people each night.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Matt Forte open to Bears return?: 'My knees feel pretty good on this plant based diet'

Matt Forte open to Bears return?: 'My knees feel pretty good on this plant based diet'

The Bears running game woes are well-documented at this point in the season and now it is looking like rookie running back David Montgomery could be out on Sunday as he is officially a gametime decision for the matchup against the Rams, further complicating the issues plaguing the Bears. 

Bears fans have been routinely thinking about the glory days of the franchise to distract themselves from what has been an up-and-down 2019 season. When one Bears fan took to Twitter to share a quick Matt Forte appreciation post, he got the attention of Forte himself. 

In 2014 and 2015, Forte's last two years with the Bears, he amassed 3,133 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. After this Forte finished out his last two seasons with the New York Jets. Though Forte's last time on the field was the 2017 season, don't think that the veteran running back couldn't make a return if he absolutely set his mind to it.

A fan posited the question of:  Would Forte return to the Bears if offered a one-year deal? And Forte responded rather quickly that he would definitely be interested if such an offer was on the table.

Chicago sports fans all over the Twittersphere started to rejoice at the thought of Forte again donning a Bears jersey but when some asked Forte to not get them "worked up" about such an exciting idea, he hilariously replied that his plant-based diet has done wonders for his knees.

Obviously the lighthearted nature of Forte's response suggests that while he probably could still return to the NFL and play at a good level, he more just wanted to show his continued support for the franchise that brought him into the NFL in 2008. 

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