Bears

Bizarre meeting on deck when Bears face Kreutz

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Bizarre meeting on deck when Bears face Kreutz

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 11:05 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The number is different, 50 instead of the 57 hes worn since coming into the NFL in 1998 as a third-round pick of the Bears. And so is the uniform: the New Orleans Saints instead of the Bears.

One word described it, as far as the former teammates of Olin Kreutz are concerned:

Weird.

Its been weird, said Roberto Garza, now at center because negotiations didnt get a deal done to keep Kreutz in Chicago in late July. We got a chance to watch a couple of games with him out there. Its still Olin, flying around, hitting people and its a little weird to see him in that No. 50. But you know, thats the NFL I guess.

The contract situation doesnt warrant rehashing; the Bears offered him a one-year deal, Kreutz wanted more (how much more is a subject of some dispute but not really important anymore), they couldnt reach a compromise, and Kreutz signed with the Saints for substantially less than the Bears offered.

He wasnt happy to leave. The Bears werent happy he wasnt coming back, perhaps a little more so because the market for Chris Spencer dictated a two-year deal worth 6 million, more than Kreutz was looking for in his one year.

He embodies what a football player is, GM Jerry Angelo said. I have the highest respect for him. The reason that Im in this business and why were all in this business is because of players like Olin Kreutz.

Brian Urlacher has been facing Kreutz only in training camp, because No. 1s dont practice against No. 1s since 2001, the offseason after Urlacher moved to middle linebacker. Now he will be seeing Kreutz when it counts.

Like Roberto Garza said, No. 50 looks weird on him, Urlacher said. I watched him Thursday night against Green Bay and I watched him throughout the preseason. It just looks like a different jersey.

It will indeed be different, for both sides, on Sunday. This one has been years, literally, in the making.

Coach Forte?

Running back Matt Forte put another chip in the pot Sunday in making the case for what he believes his new contract should be. He rushed for 68 yards on 16 carries (4.3 average) and led the Bears with five receptions for an additional 90 yards, 56 of those taking a screen pass into the end zone for a TD. The 158 yards marked the fifth-highest game total of his career.

He also added coach to his resume.

The Bears placed fullback Tyler Clutts on the active roster despite only being signed Wednesday. Somewhat surprisingly, Clutts had a major role a Fortes lead blocker in an offense that hed only had a few days to absorb. It is an offense that is universally acknowledged to be difficult, with players still saying they are adjusting to it after a year in the system.

But Clutts had help. Right behind him, in fact.

Matt is like a coach on the field, and hes right behind me, Clutts said. So any question I have, I just give him a look or hell check with me, and we communicate back and forth.

And the coaching staff did a good job of not putting me in situations that could be disastrous on my part.

Wake up

Sports Illustrateds Peter King advises Dont sleep on the Bears in his Monday Morning Quarterback column in the wake of Sundays games, noting that the Bears were in position to score on five of their first seven possessions. Not bad for a team known for its defense.

Peter only rates Green Bay, New England and Baltimore ahead of the Bears in his weekly power rankings.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Projecting what the Bears' 53-man roster will look like

Projecting what the Bears' 53-man roster will look like

The Bears will begin training camp next week without many significant position battles — outside of kicker, of course — which stands as an indicator of how strong a roster Ryan Pace has built. But that doesn’t mean there won't be some intriguing decisions to be made in a month and a half, especially involving depth at some critical positions. 

So here’s a pre-training camp stab at projecting what the Bear’s 53-man roster will look like on the night of Sept. 5:

QUARTERBACKS (2): Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel
Missing the cut: Tyler Bray

These two guys are locked in, leaving Tyler Bray to likely return to the practice squad for another season. 

RUNNING BACKS (4): Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, David Montgomery, Kerrith Whyte Jr. 
Missing the cut: Ryan Nall

Cohen, Davis and Montgomery are roster locks, leaving Whyte and Nall to compete for, likely, just one spot on the roster. Matt Nagy praised Nall during OTAs, and he could become a versatile option with the ability to play some fullback, but we’ll give the last spot to Whyte given his speed and the Bears’ focus on that trait in the offseason. 

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Marvin Hall
Missing the cut: Javon Wims, Emanuel Hall, Taquan Mizzell, Tanner Gentry, Jordan Williams-Lambert, Thomas Ives

Robinson, Gabriel and Miller are locks, while Patterson’s contract structure ($5 million guaranteed, all in 2019) and Ridley’s draft slot (fourth round) easily get them on the team, too. That leaves Javon Wims, Marvin Hall, Emanuel Hall and a handful of others to compete for what probably is only one more spot on the 53-man roster. There’s not much separating those three heading into training camp, though Emanuel Hall’s sports hernia surgery sidelined him during OTAs, putting him a little behind the curve. Wims is the incumbent here but didn’t get on the field much in 2018, while Marvin Hall played a little with the Atlanta Falcons over the last two years. We’ll give the edge to Marvin Hall for now based on his speed and meager experience, but also with the knowledge that the Bears’ sixth receiver likely won’t be active on game days unless of an injury. 

TIGHT ENDS (5): Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Bradley Sowell, Dax Raymond
Missing the cut: Ian Bunting, Jesper Horsted, Ellis Richardson

If Burton has to begin training camp on the PUP list, will he be ready for Week 1? Can Shaheen stay healthy for a full season? Those are perhaps the two biggest questions needing answers not only for this unit, but for the Bears’ offense as a whole. Burton’s 11th-hour injury prior to the Bears’ playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles limited how dynamic Nagy’s offense could be, while Shaheen’s preseason injury meant the Bears were ineffective when using 12 personnel during the regular season. The Bears need better depth behind Burton and Shaheen — Braunecker is a reliable special teamer with flexibility to play both the “U” and the “Y” spots, but can more much-needed depth emerge from a converted offensive lineman (Sowell) and a handful of undrafted free agents (Raymond, Bunting, Horsted, Richardson)? We’ll give Sowell (at the “Y” behind Shaheen) and Raymond (at the “U” behind Burton) the spots for now, but both will have to earn their way onto the roster during training camp. 

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Rashaad Coward, Ted Larsen, Alex Bars
Missing the cut: Cornelius Lucas, Joe Lowery, T.J. Clemmings, Blake Blackmar, Marquez Tucker, Jordan McCray, Sam Mustipher

The Bears moved Sowell to tight end thanks, in part, to their confidence in the development of Coward — a converted defensive lineman — to take over as their swing tackle in 2019. He’s still under construction as an NFL offensive lineman and will have to beat out a handful of challengers, including a five-year NFL reserve in Lucas, but Coward has the edge for a roster spot. The interior reserves are less clear, though: Larsen was brought back in free agency but only has $90,000 guaranteed on his one-year deal, while Bars played for O-line coach Harry Hiestand in college but is coming off an ACL/MCL injury that led to him going undrafted in April. Any of the other reserves could make a push, or the Bears could look to add interior depth on cut-down weekend. For now, though, Larsen, Bars and Coward make the most sense to slide behind the same starting five the Bears had to end 2018. 

DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Nick Williams
Missing the cut: Abdullah Anderson, Jalen Dalton, Daryle Banfield, Jonathan Harris

This is the Bears’ deepest unit, with the only battle to see who will make the roster and wind up inactive on game days, as Williams was for all but two games in 2018. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5): Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, Isaiah Irving, Chuck Harris
Cut: Kylie Fitts, Mathieu Betts, James Vaughters

Irving flashed during 2017’s and 2018’s preseasons, and might need to do so again to secure his spot on the Bears’ 2019 roster. But consider this an open battle for reserve roles behind Mack/Floyd/Lynch: Irving has the inside track to one spot but will have to earn it; while whoever flashes the most from the Harris/Fitts/Betts/Vaughters group should get another. We’ll go with Harris here — maybe Mack can take his fellow Buffalo alum under his wing during training camp. 

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4): Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Nick Kwiatkoski, Joel Iyiegbuniwe
Cut: Josh Woods, Jameer Thurman, Kevin Pierre-Louis

Woods might be as close to the bubble as anyone on defense, and could force his way on to the roster with a strong preseason and a commitment to special teams. But with Kwiatkoski a reliable backup and he and Iyiegbuniwe being core special teamers, it’s hard to see Woods beating out any of those four for a spot right now. 

CORNERBACK (6): Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine, Kevin Toliver II, Duke Shelley, Sherrick McManis
Cut: Stephen Denmark, John Franklin III, Michael Joseph, Josh Simmons, Clifton Duck, Jonathon Mincy

There should be a strong competition among the reserve outside corners on this roster, with Toliver having the best shot but needing to fend off the raw athleticism of Denmark and Franklin as well as the talent of Joseph, who stuck on the practice squad last year after going undrafted out of Division III Dubuque. Shelley flashed during OTAs and minicamp during the spring and looks likely to wind up on the 53-man roster. While McManis worked at safety some during the spring, we’ll include him among the cornerbacks for now. 

SAFETY (4): Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson
Cut: Doyin Jibowu

Barring injury and a more permanent move to safety for McManis, there’s little that’ll change in this unit between now and Week 1.

SPECIALISTS (3): Greg Joseph (PK), Pat O’Donnell (P), Patrick Scales (LS)
Cut: Elliott Fry, Eddy Pineiro, John Wirtel

Surprise! While the battle between Fry and Pineiro will dominate the headlines in Bourbonnais, the “winner” isn’t guaranteed to be the Bears’ Week 1 kicker. So not only are those two competing against each other, they’re competing against the field, too. In this scenario, the Cleveland Browns keep fifth-round pick Austin Seibert and cut Joseph, who made 17 of 20 field goals (with a long of 51 yards) for them in 2018. The Bears could try to swing a trade for Baltimore’s Kaare Vedvik here, too. The larger point, though, is this: Pace may have to look outside the organization for his Week 1 kicker, and there will be some talent — like Joseph — available if he does. 

Devin Hester's son already looks ready to return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown

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Devin Hester's son already looks ready to return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown

The year is 2034. On the sideline stands a grizzled Mitch Trubisky, the effects of a two-decade long NFL career evident as he leads the Chicago Bears off the teleportation tunnel (that'll be a thing by then) and onto the field for one last game. Year 16 in Matt Nagy's system is almost in the books. Nagy, who many have come to know as "The Approachable Bill Belichick," has moved on to pagan holidays after running the nickname well dry throughout the years.  Club Dub is now a moderately successful chain of college town dance clubs. 

It's Super Bowl LXIX, and the Bears are slight underdogs against the London Jaguars, who by then will presumably be named something far more British. The London British Jaguars, perhaps. The captains meet at midfield to shake hands with the refs, who are of course robots. The head robot runs its coin flip algorithm, and the Bears will recieve the opening kick. It's go time on the Moon. 

Lining up deep to field the kick? Dray Hester, Devin Hester's kid. If you don't believe that *all* of this is destined to happen, just take a look: 

It's happening. See you on the moon.