Bears

Draft hellos and Sunday farewells on CSN's 'Draft Central'

Draft hellos and Sunday farewells on CSN's 'Draft Central'

What was handwriting on the wall became official pink slips Sunday for two veterans regarded as leaders during the bumpy first-year regime of Ryan Pace and John Fox. The general manager and head coach, though, are all business when it comes to what’s turned into a high-speed turnover of their roster.

Safety Antrell Rolle and guard Matt Slauson were released early Sunday evening. Both had already hit the dreaded 30-year-old mark, but neither was sabotaging the team’s salary cap situation. Rolle, in fact, had used up all his guaranteed money following a disappointing first year of a three-year deal. He was limited to just seven games in his debut Bears season, but even when he was on the field, his struggles appeared to offset what leadership he might have brought to the defense. Slauson, on the other hand, was a savior on a taped-together offensive line that first moved Kyle Long to right tackle the week before the regular season, lost left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a back injury, lost center Will Montgomery to a broken lower leg in Week 4 and got substandard play at right guard from Vladimir Ducasse and Patrick Omameh. After his own injury-shortened 2014, Slauson was the glue in 2015. But whispers about his lack of athleticism at this stage of his career followed the signings of veterans Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen in free agency, and Friday’s second-round selection of Cody Whitehair turned up the volume in that rumor mill.

There’s been no indication from Pace, Alshon Jeffery, Long or the agents of those players that these moves coincide with long-term contract extensions for both, which can be front-loaded with guaranteed money given the Bears’ comfortable salary cap situation right now. It would certainly provide a better clue but won’t necessarily wind up being the answer. Conspiracy theorists will say the team will try to extend Long at guard money before switching him to the more lucrative right tackle position. But all of Long’s public comments since the signing of free agent right tackle Bobby Massie point toward a desire to stay put. Pace’s reluctance to clarify that over the weekend provides the sense yet another move for Long could be coming — like it or not, kid.

This is the crossroads draft for Pace’s long-term vision. The much-debated selection of Leonard Floyd outside of Halas Hall is met with a swagger inside that the coaching staff will make him well worth the No. 9 overall pick and that he won’t be the next Shea McClellin. It’s a confident group inside the Hall’s walls right now. Now the hard part: putting their belief into results on the field. Or maybe they think the hard part already took place the past two months in acquiring the pieces they have and that the next part will just happen.

We’ll have much more on the Sunday moves, as well as those from Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10:30 p.m. tonight on Comcast SportsNet's hour-long edition of "SportsNet Central: Draft Central." Jim Miller, Dave Wannstedt and Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush join me in studio to further discuss the draft picks and the moves that followed.

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.