Bears

Buyer beware: Top wide receivers on the market

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Buyer beware: Top wide receivers on the market

Rare will be the day that goes by without free agent assessments and this year, with the Bears having cap space, clear needs and a new GM with a mandate to move, ones that address wide receivers in particular are of interest.

Don Banks over at SI.com assumes the role of devils advocate with respect to the cast of wideouts coming free (well, definitely not free in the fiduciary sense) as he posits some buyer-bewares on some of the bigger name receivers. The Bears have had first-hand experience with just about all of the likely suspects over the past 27 games.

Steve Johnson lit up the Bears for 145 yards on 11 catches when the Bears saw the Buffalo Bills in Toronto last year. But Johnson displayed a maturity shortfall and for what youre going to have to pay a franchise-grade receiver, thats not worth the risk.

The Bears see the Philadelphia Eagles just about every year so they know a little about DeSean Jackson who managed just 2 catches for 26 yards last November and 2 for 16 this season. Don pegs him as a me-first character risk and Jackson likely hasnt made Lovie Smith say we gotta get this guy based on what Jacksons done to Smiths defenses.

Vincent Jackson had his way for 165 yards and 7 catches when the Bears were beating the San Diego Chargers (and losing Jay Cutler) this season. Hes had a couple DUI issues and whether a family oriented organization will open the vault for that is an unknown.

Dwayne Bowe was Kansas Citys No. 1 receiver when Phil Emery was with Kansas City Chiefs personnel. Bowe has shown some toughness questions, which wont play well in the meeting rooms of coach Darryl Drake and offense of Mike Tice, and his 4 catches for 49 yards didnt include the Hail Mary this season.

Wes Welker put 115 yards and 8 catches on the Bears in Dec. 2010 but hes 31 and if he isnt bringing Tom Brady with him to Chicago...

The best combo platter is developing to be New Orleans Marques Colston, whos 6-4, a consistent 70-catch1,000-yard receiver.

The Bears didnt have to deal with Colston in week two because hed broken his collarbone the week before against the Packers. He was supposed to miss four weeks and missed two -- think that kind of tough wideout would work in Chicago?

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”