Bears

Can Bears find help in Super Bowl 50? A few guys to keep an eye on

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Can Bears find help in Super Bowl 50? A few guys to keep an eye on

The 2016 NFL draft will come at the end of April, well after the March 9 formal start of free-agent signings that will have a huge influence on what the Bears and every NFL team does in the draft. The draft is indeed the true source of building materials for franchise foundations but even at No. 11, the Bears cannot count solely on a targeted player being available.

[RELATED - Scorning Super Bowl Media Day circus misses the Mardi Gras point]

Consequently, scores in free agency are the critical second step (re-signing or franchise-tagging your own is the first step) in a successful offseason. GM Ryan Pace, his staff and that of coach John Fox have done pro scouting all through the 2015 season but Super Bowl 50 is a quick layman’s chance to scout possible free-agency targets for the Bears when free agency opens.

Some of the notables worth a look, and including a handful of reserves, where GM Ryan Pace may go in search of value:

Carolina Panthers

CB Josh Norman - Career year in a contract year; may command top DB $$ at a premium position.

S Roman Harper - ’06 New Orleans pick while Ryan Pace on Saints staff, durable and productive but turning 34.

DL Kyle Love - Reserve DT played in 15 games, 2 starts, 3 sacks. Potential 5-technique started career in New England’s 3-4.                                    

C/G Fernando Velasco - Backup started with Tennessee during tenure of Bears new OC Dowell Loggains.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Denver Broncos

S David Bruton - Veteran backup at both FS/SS a proven contributor on special teams but limited future in Denver behind T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart.

DE Malik Jackson - Denver signing DE Derek Wolfe (4 yr, $36M) makes Jackson a squeeze with Miller a must-keep. Drafted under John Fox. Tough inside rushman.

G Evan Mathis - Played ’15 under one-yr. deal at age 34.

LB Von Miller - The marquee target for every 3-4 defense, a pass-rush terror with range and cover ability.

LB Danny Trevathan  Solid three-down inside LB likely to hit the market because Broncos have long list.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel. The Bears lose a rough one in Miami as Matt Nagy goes conservative at the end zone. Does the rookie coach deserve all of the blame? Dave Wannstedt joins the guys to discuss.

Plus the guys discuss the Cubs’ newest hitting coach/scapegoat, Brandon Saad’s upcoming healthy scratch and Bobby Portis betting on himself this season. 

Listen here or in the embedded player below!

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.