Bears rookies being forced to prove they belong


Bears rookies being forced to prove they belong

Coach John Fox has a reputation for only grudgingly playing rookies. Not necessarily true. What is true is that even high draft picks are virtually never handed a starting job from day one, as wide receiver Kevin White is discovering.

Under Fox, Denver Broncos top picks Bradley Roby (2014, No. 31) and Sylvester Williams (2013, No. 28) each played 16 games as rookies but rarely started. Julius Thomas (2011, fourth round), who became a two-time Pro Bowl tight end, started just one game as a rookie.

The Bears invested the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft in a wide receiver who has not cracked the starting lineup on a team with significant needs at the wideout position.

This is not a bad thing. Handing a starting job to a rookie based on draft investment is.

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When the Bears drafted Brian Urlacher No. 9 overall in 2000, he was announced as starting linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day. Disaster. Halfway through the preseason, Urlacher was beaten out and didn’t return to the starting lineup until an injury at middle linebacker let him back on the field.

White hasn’t been handed a starting job, consigned to the No. 2 unit behind Alshon Jeffery (who did not wrest his starting job from Devin Hester until three games into 2012), Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson. To his credit, White hasn’t expected to be handed a job just so the organization could justify his draft status.

“Oh yeah, yeah, I'm ready, I just have to get better, and everything will take care of itself,” White said during this week’s OTA’s. “I'm not looking too far ahead, though."

The only rookie who has spent appreciable time with the No. 1’s has been nose tackle Eddie Goldman, taken in the second round. And nothing definitive should really be taken from pad-less practices in June, regardless of position.

[ALSO: Bears to practice with Colts in August]

Goldman and White are expected to secure starting jobs before the end of the preseason. But as bad as the 2014 Bears were, they were perhaps not so bad that any highly regarded high-pick rookie can just show up and start. Predictably, the worse the team, the sooner the high draft pick starts.

After a 2-14 season with Tampa Bay, Lovie Smith has had No. 1-overall Jameis Winston working with both the 1’s and 2’s but is expected to lock in behind Winston at No. 1 for training camp, if not sooner. The 2-14 Tennessee Titans installed Marcus Mariota as the day one starter after selecting him No. 2.

Fox is not averse to starting rookies early. He put one at the top of the day one depth chart when he took over the Carolina Panthers, who were coming off a 1-15 season in 2001. Von Miller was an opening-day starter for Fox and the 2011 Denver Broncos.

“I can’t recall at the receiver position, right off the top of my head, but there’s been other positions,” Fox said. “When we drafted Julius Peppers [No. 2 overall at Carolina in 2002] early in my head coaching career, he was a starter from Day 1.”

Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

The Los Angeles Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey Tuesday night, sending two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and a 2021 fourth-round pick for the superstar defender.

It's the second trade the Rams have accomplished in one day. Los Angeles shipped CB Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick earlier on Tuesday, completing a makeover in their secondary that will have a direct impact the Chicago Bears this season.

The Bears travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in Week 11 as part of a brutal five-game stretch coming off of their bye week. Ramsey makes it even worse.

The Rams had little choice but to pull off a mega-deal like this. They're entering Week 7 with the 19th ranked pass defense and an underwhelming 3-3 record, a far cry from the expectations for last year's Super Bowl runner-up.

Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense will have their hands full on November 17. The combination of Aaron Donald on the defensive line and Ramsey in the secondary is as intimidating as any defensive duo in the NFL and is capable of destroying even the smartest and most efficient passing attacks. And that's not exactly Chicago's pass offense so far.

Trubisky, who's expected to return from a left shoulder injury Sunday against the Saints, hasn't proven this season that he's capable of staring down the barrel of a Donald-Ramsey alliance. It will be a ridiculously difficult challenge for a quarterback who's still finding his way as a pro.

Ramsey has missed the last three games for a variety of reasons, most of which appear as tricks to remain healthy in anticipation of a trade.  He's a two-time Pro Bowler and has nine interceptions from 2016-2018.

Now, Ramsey is an opponent on Chicago's 2019 schedule. 

Power Ranking Roundup: The bye week didn't do the Bears any favors

Power Ranking Roundup: The bye week didn't do the Bears any favors

The Bears didn't play last week, but did that stop them from falling in Power Rankings across The Web? It did not! Going into the bye on a loss never fails to stoke the panic. Here's what they're saying: 

NBC Sports Chicago -- #16
Their power rankings slide is because of how well other teams performed Sunday; Chicago doesn't feel like a top-15 team when compared to the rest of the NFL. -- #9
The Bears do have a player who's good at all that stuff when given a chance -- that would be running back Tarik Cohen, who already had nine such "big plays" through five games a year ago. In 2019? He has just one, despite being healthy and available each week. Bears coach Matt Nagy needs to get Cohen involved.

ESPN -- #16
Their vertical passing attack is limited with Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel at quarterback. The offense has been equally ineffective on the ground. Chicago has gained eight or more rushing yards on just 10 running plays through five games.

Bleacher Report -- #10
Chicago had best make good use of this week off and get things figured out. Four of the team's next five games after the bye are against teams that made the postseason a year ago, including trips to face the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams.

Sports Illustrated -- #17
A Vikings win this week and strong starts from the Lions and Packers suddenly raises the stake Sunday’s game against the Saints. Unfortunately, New Orleans has a similarly great defense and a much better offense than the Bears.

CBS Sports -- #13
They come off the bye looking to generate more on offense. But it was the defense that also had some issues in London. That unit needs to pick it up as well.

USA Today -- #14
Coming out of bye, club currently just outside playoff picture hits brutal stretch with just two of final 11 opponents currently below .500.

Yahoo Sports -- #11
The Bears have only two games left against teams who are currently under .500. They face the Chargers and Giants, who are both 2-4 and not totally incapable. If the Bears make it back to the playoffs, it’ll be impressive.

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