Bears

Ezekiel Elliott lauds Bears RB coach for 'why I'm the back I am'

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Ezekiel Elliott lauds Bears RB coach for 'why I'm the back I am'

INDIANAPOLIS – The Bears radically altered their depth chart at running back this month with the decision to step away from Matt Forte as their lead back. Because of what they believe they have in Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford, fourth-round picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts, respectively, they are not expected to make running back a priority in the 2016 draft.

That likely precludes a Buckeye reunion that one of the top backfield prospects wish would happen.

[MORE - Report: Bears will place franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery]

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott credits Bears running backs coach Stan Drayton as “really the biggest reason why I'm here today, why I'm the back I am today,” Elliott said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Stan Drayton, that's my guy. He was hard on me since I got on campus… .  He made sure when I learned this position that I learned it thoroughly, that I learned not just what I do but what the guys around me do.

“That made me understand the game so much better. He taught me how to anticipate instead [running] just off of reactions, off of instinct. That made me play faster and made me into a great player.”

The Bears were successful with second-round picks on Forte in 2008 and on Anthony Thomas in 2001. Elliott is expected to be a first-round pick, which could be the Bears at No. 11 if he is far and away the best player available on the Bears’ draft board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

But Elliott’s 6.7 yards per carry average and 43 rushing touchdowns make him attractive to teams looking to recommit to effective run-pass balance, meaning he may be selected before the Bears’ first turn comes in any case.

Still, the thought of again playing for Drayton brought a smile to Elliott’s face.

“You know, if I went to Chicago and played for Stan Drayton, I know he would be a guy who would stay on my case,” Elliott said. “He would never let me get content. He'd always push me. That's what he was for me at Ohio State. It would be nice to reunite with him.”

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.