Bears: Rolle signing creates squeeze on Vereen, safety jobs


Bears: Rolle signing creates squeeze on Vereen, safety jobs

Third in a series

Who’s in: Ryan Mundy, Antrel Rolle

Where do they fit? Brock Vereen 

The Bears spent a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft to move up into the 2014 fourth round and select Brock Vereen. Vereen was able to log some time in the starting lineup last year because of injuries to Chris Conte, but he starts this offseason behind veterans Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy and will be pressed to earn snaps in his second season.

Mundy led the Bears in tackles last season, was a teammate of Rolle’s for a season with the New York Giants, and was among the few steady performers in an abysmal 2015 Bears defense. Rolle joins his third NFL team with a coach eager for what he brings to the locker room as well as the secondary.

[MORE - Bears clearly thinking 'outside' the box at linebacker]

“I think he’s been one of the more productive safeties in the league over the last few years,” said coach John Fox. “I think he understands the game. I think he plays the game fast. I think he understands how to prepare for NFL football games. I think that is contagious. I think when younger players see that model they help us as a football team.”

Conte is gone, to Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Danny McCray took the free safety job from Vereen early in training camp last year, then struggled and eventually lost out to Conte, but did have a 10-tackle game in the Bears’ win over the New York Jets. 

But the signing of Rolle at age 32 was an indicator of what coach and GM thought about the state of the deep secondary.

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“Not beating up guys we have, but going in and looking at tape and seeing areas we maybe need improvement, it might just be doing it every day better,” Fox said of how it improves. “And then you play better. But I’ve really thought that Antrel Rolle would help that process.”

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

The Bears have seemingly dodged a bullet, for now. 

Following Tuesday's announcement that Khalil Mack would undergo further tests on the right ankle injury he sustained during Sunday's loss, Bears head coach had more optimistic news on Wednesday:

It could obviously get a lot worse than a day-to-day diagnosis, though not practicing on Wednesday might raise some eyebrows. 

It sounds like Mack is expected to be a go for Sunday's matchup with the Patriots, though as the Bears saw with the Dolphins' QB situation last week, things can change in a heartbeat.