Bears

How would Von Miller look in a Bears uniform?

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How would Von Miller look in a Bears uniform?

A prime focus of the Bears offense on Sunday will be to account for and block Denver Broncos rush-linebacker Von Miller and interdict his pursuit of Jay Cutler and any other Bear with a football.

One focus of the Bears organization next offseason is expected to be turning Miller from pursuer to pursuee, with Miller the sort of elite pass rusher who reaches free agency only in the rarest of offseasons. And Miller, with five sacks and five tackles for a loss through nine games, said on Wednesday that he is interested in the opportunity to see what his open-market value is.

“You know obviously I want to get the opportunity to see what it brings when that chance comes,” Miller said via conference call on Wednesday.

The Bears will be among the NFL leaders in available salary cap space, and GM Ryan Pace last offseason demonstrated the priority the Bears place on 3-4 pass rushers when he made Pernell McPhee his first top-end signing with a five-year contract worth $38.7 million, of which $15.5 was guaranteed.

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The Broncos will have the option of placing their franchise tag on Miller if a long-term deal is not reached. Legendary NFL executive and current NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt lists Miller No. 2 on his roster of must-re-sign players.

“Miller also makes everyone around him better, and not just up front,” Brandt wrote.

“Denver's defensive backs know they won't get beat deep too often, because Miller's going to make the quarterback get rid of the ball in a hurry.”

John Fox was in on drafting Miller, the second-overall selection of the 2011 draft, an immediate impact player that led Denver’s defense from 32nd in 2010 to 20th in Miller’s first year to second in 2012. He knows what Miller is and can do.

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“He’s a tremendous talent,” Fox said. “As a pass-rusher, he has great first-step explosion. He can convert speed to power. He’s a guy where, you better know where he is on the field at all times.

“I think he’s improved [since 2011]. They’re playing really good defense, the best that’s being played in the league right now, statistically speaking, and he’s a big part of that.”

For now Miller’s attention is on Cutler and being part of ending Denver’s two-game slide, so as far as free agency, "I don't think about it,” he said. “I only think about it when I get asked about it. I've just got to take it one game at a time, one play at a time, try to influence our guys top play better out there, you know try to play the kind of football that I've been playing and that'll be enough to get it done."

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.