Bears

Bears waiting on Alshon Jeffery to provide downfield threat

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Bears waiting on Alshon Jeffery to provide downfield threat

Alshon Jeffery, who was limited (again) in practice on Thursday has more optimism about playing this Sunday in Detroit (“a lot better than last week,” Jeffery said) than he has had for any of the Bears’ last four games (all of which he missed) because of a hamstring strain. The offense has out-gained opponents in three of those, all but the Seattle game.

But the Bears rank 31st in yards per pass attempt (6.1 yards), meaning that the football is not going deep downfield very often. Not all of it can be laid at the foot of protection questions, with the Bears 18th in sack percentage; not great but not catastrophic, either.

The Bears have 17 pass plays of 20 yards or longer but only 10 of those have come from wide receivers, and Jeffery accounted for two of those in the one game he played (Green Bay). Jeffery has had longest catches for 80 and 74 yards the past two seasons and through five games this year the Bears have none longer than 50 yards.

[MORE BEARS: Rookie WR Kevin White does some light work at practice]

The twin hopes are that Jeffery will be active Sunday in Ford Field and that he will bring something that has been sorely missed by the 2015 Bears offense.

“I think we’re going to be able to open things up a little bit,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “We haven’t really been able to attack down the field. A lot of our guys… ‘Q’ [Marquess Wilson] has tried to do a good job with what we ask him to do.

“[But] I know Alshon is a special cat. The way that he goes up and gets the ball, it’s rare to see. I know there’s a few guys that can do it, but it seems like a contested throw, he wins a lot. Like [receivers coach Mike] Groh always would say, ‘He’s an above the rim player,’ and there’s not a lot of those guys around the league.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans]

Jeffery actually is, literally, an above-the-rim player. He was a four-time state champion as a member of the Calhoun County (S.C.) High School basketball team.

“[Not playing has] been frustrating at times, but I have great teammates and great coaches, and great people around me that are keeping me in good spirits,” Jeffery said. “We'll evaluate it. Let's just see what the coaches say and see how it feels. [We’re a] couple of days away from Sunday, so we'll see.”

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.