Bears

Bears: Zach Miller attacking familiar foe but confident he'll be ready for OTAs

Bears: Zach Miller attacking familiar foe but confident he'll be ready for OTAs

Among the Bears' multiple needs to fill out their roster this offseason, what's believed to be a strong draft for tight ends will afford general manager Ryan Pace the potential to fortify the position behind Zach Miller and build competition with developmental options Dan Brown and Ben Braunecker.

Miller finally played a full season in 2015 as part of an NFL career that dates back to 2009 and included not playing in a single game over a three-year span. But the injury bug bit him again in the Bears' 10th game this season as the new starter, after already surpassing the career highs he set in 2015 for receptions and receiving yards. Yet he told former Bear Tom Thayer and me Monday night on "Bears All Access" on "670 The Score" he's on schedule from the fractured Lisfranc in his right foot suffered against the Giants in November.

"Everything's going great. I'll be ready when we get back in April," Miller said. "Everything's going according to plan, ahead of schedule. I've been through this exact rehab schedule before. I know what it entails and I've been able to bounce back and play at a high level before, and I'm comfortable with that. You just gotta put in the time and the work, and when it's time to get back in April and go through OTAs I'll just build on that and work towards getting ready for training camp."

While familiarity of this kind brings frustration and contempt, there's also, in a weird way, a sense of comfort with the injury. Miller was on his way to earning a roster spot in an impressive preseason after the Bears signed him in 2014, only to suffer the same break in his left foot.

"I knew as soon as my foot planted," Miller said of the second instance. "JPP (Giants defense end Jason Pierre-Paul) and I kind of got tangled up in the way we fell. As soon as it happened, I told Jay (Cutler, in what turned into his last game of the season, too) as I was walking off, `I blew my other Lisfranc,' and he said, `What?'  As I was hobbling to the sidelines Nate Breske, our head trainer, said, 'You want me to get the cart?' And I didn't wanna be carted off so I just walked, and put all the pressure on my heel because every time you step, your foot basically slides in half. But it was something I knew instantly. Obviously frustrated, but it's something I've been through before, so we'll get through it."

Miller's performance two seasons ago in supplementing the position with Martellus Bennett factored into the Bears parting ways with the eccentric, self-nicknamed "Black Unicorn" in a deal last offseason with the Patriots. His former teammate got to watch Bennett win a Super Bowl ring for New England Sunday night.

"We've talked a couple times throughout the season. If he had good games or I had good games, we'd text. He hit me up after the injury, and I spoke with him a couple of times throughout the playoffs just to wish him well. And I spoke to him (Monday) to congratulate him.  But I watched him,  and when he had his opportunity (in Sunday's win over Atlanta), he did his thing.  He played well so I'm happy for him and his family to be able to enjoy that moment."
 

Postcards from Camp: Defense predictably ahead of offense but “D” already being challenged by changing “O"

Postcards from Camp: Defense predictably ahead of offense but “D” already being challenged by changing “O"

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – An open postcard from the Bears “D”:
 
Yes, we know we need more interceptions. And we’re doing something about it, even if Mitch doesn’t like it – quarterbacks never do. Tru’ probably wasn’t in a great mood after Nick Kwiatkoski picked his way through traffic, then deflected and grabbed a pass of Mitch’s for one pick, this after Kyle (Fuller) had snagged one of 10’s in 7-on-7. So after Cre’Von LeBlanc broke in front of Adam Shaheen to intercept one of Chase Daniel’s throws, Mitch and Prince (Amukamara) did a little jawing. But hey….
 
Kwit is having a great camp, running the offense with Danny Trevathan nursing a hamstring problem and Roquan Smith still not signed. Coach Nagy has told us, and said it again on Sunday, that you have to win your job, no gimmes here, and Kwit isn’t giving anything away.
 
We all were kind of causing problems for the offense. Prince broke up a Mitch throw to Kevin White and then defensed another two snaps later against Josh Bellamy. Kyle broke up a long try to White, too, and even in 7-on7, the QB’s were having to hold onto the ball longer because of good coverage.
 
(Kevin had a spotty day. He burned us with a long TD catch against double coverage but also dropped another Mitch Trubisky deep heave with no one closer than five yards away, and had the football come out when he hit the ground after another catch.)
 
We even created a “problem” for coach Nagy, who’s an offensive guy, an ex-QB himself and a former O-coordinator, but now has to pretend be at least a little happy when we do something on defense. Like he said Sunday, ‘The biggest difference [as a head coach] is you can't veer too much, either way. You're right down the middle. So, if Mitch throws an interception, it's good for our defense. Right? It's not good for Mitch. So, how do you balance that?”
 
Really, we should be ahead of the offense. Two reasons: First, the offense is still learning its playbook and a lot of new guys; and second, as Eddie [Jackson] was saying, “I just know that we’ve got better chemistry from having players here last year. It’s like the biggest thing that you can see. But the offense is doing a great job. They come out there and give us good looks.”
 
The pads were on for Sunday’s practice, so there was more hitting. The offense’ll be catching up more and more, so we’ll just enjoy the edge while it lasts.
 
Sincerely,
 
The “D”
 
P.S.  High-fives to all you fans who came down to watch practice and stayed through all that rain. We’re getting paid to be out there but you’re there because you’re Bears fans. Thanks

 
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Let’s make if official
 
Play during practice Sunday was sloppy at times, understandable given the repeated downpours as well as the inevitable early-camp learning curves.
 
But the practice was run using NFL officials, making their annual camp visits to review and explain new rules, and the Bears committed too many penalties to leave coaches satisfied.
 
Rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller was flagged for offensive pass interference on an early 7-on-7 rep and a handful of other Bears brought out the yellow laundry from the officials. One defensive offsides, a couple of false starts and other interference penalties—all part of those things to be “cleaned up” before the flags start to count.
 
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A-Rob impact—and workload—growing
 
The No. 1 question of anyone who’s been watching training camp is “How’s Trubisky look?” Not far behind that, though, is “What about Robinson? His knee ok?”
 
If early camp performances, including Sunday’s in full pads, are any indicator, and a handful of practices aren’t ever definitive, then the answers on the hoped-for franchise wideout are clear positives. The top free-agent signing of the Bears this offseason has turned in repeated strong plays and has been targeted enough in the course of Trubisky’s progressions to be satisfied at his ability to get open and to earn his quarterback’s confidence.
 
Robinson turned in a difficult sliding catch on Sunday and was denied a deep catch later only by an outstanding pass breakup by safety Adrian Amos. Robinson is coming off season-ending knee surgery of a year ago and likely has a handful of rest days built into his plan, as the Bears are doing with guard Kyle Long. 
 
“We want to be able to monitor and make sure we don’t overdo anything,”said coach Matt Nagy. “There’s no need to do that. He’s worked really hard to get to this point so for us, just to keep an idea where he’s at, how many reps he’s getting, and coach [Mike] Furrey’s done a good job of that.”
 
 
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Fan favorite…sort of
 
This writer was departing O’Hare some weeks back and at an adjacent gate was Bears running back Tarik Cohen. Just time to exchange a few pleasantries and I was leaving. But the notable part of the moment was that no one – no…one —recognized Cohen. No. one.
 
Then came Saturday morning and the first day of fans attending a training-camp practice. The biggest ovation went to quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Not far short of that, however, was the welcome for Cohen, a hint that the second-year ultra-back (with apologies to Raymont Harris, the original Ultraback) won’t go unnoticed at too many more O’Hare gates.
 
“A couple people knew me in the airport,” Cohen said. “I was just keeping my head down, keeping it moving. Airports are congested places.”
 
An ovation coming out to practice “feels great,” Cohen said. “It’s like seeing your hard work pay off a little bit. But I’m looking for a bigger ovation coming out for the games.”
 
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Sick bay
 
Rookie linebacker linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was added to a defense-heavy list of injured absentees, out with what coach Matt Nagy reported was a shoulder injury. He joins linebackers Aaron Lynch and Danny Trevathan and cornerback Sherrick McManis, all with hamstring strains.
 
Tight end Daniel Brown is still out with an ankle injury.
 

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

Training Camp Daily: The Bears put the pads on for Sunday's practice on another wet day in Bourbonnais. Bears insider John 'Moon' Mullin & producer Paul Aspan discuss Mitchell Trubisky's accuracy, which continues to be a work in progress. Plus Anthony Miller & Kevin White turn heads, while Aaron Lynch suffers yet another injury setback when the Bears are already thin at pass rusher. 

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