For the fourth time in franchise history, the Bears — along with the Cleveland Browns — will coach in the 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl later this month.
It allows John Fox and his coaching staff to get an early look at the top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, which is important for a team that owns the No. 3 overall pick.
“We’re excited for this opportunity to get a hands-on look at some of the top draft-eligible players in the nation,” said Fox. “The Senior Bowl experience will provide our coaches and personnel staff an extended chance to evaluate these players in a one-on-one setting which could prove to be very valuable as we approach the NFL Draft. It’s a great opportunity to spend some extra time with these guys and see how they respond to our staff.”
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Fox has never coached in the Senior Bowl throughout his 28-year coaching career in the NFL. The previous three Bears coaches to have coached in this event were Jack Pardee (1976), Mike Ditka (1992) and Dave Wannstedt (1996).
The Senior Bowl will take place Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobila, Ala. at 1:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.
When the Chicago Bears signed 33-year-old tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency, fans and football media questioned the strategy. Graham is coming off back-to-back underwhelming seasons with the Green Bay Packers, looking every bit like a player whose best days are behind him.
According to the Bears, that may not be the case. Instead, coach Matt Nagy views Graham as a guy who will pay dividends in Chicago's offense.
"It's just a fit for us," Nagy said of Graham on Friday. "Big size, 6-6 playmaker that you can get some mismatches with. I know me personally, I'm very much looking forward to putting him in some situations."
Graham caught 38 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns last season and totaled just five touchdowns in two seasons playing with Aaron Rodgers. It's hard imagining a scenario where he'll suddenly regain the form that once made him one of the NFL's elite receiving tight ends, but Nagy is confident that a scheme change will help restore Graham's reputation.
Graham joins an already underwhelming Bears tight end room that includes Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, among others.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy met with the media (via teleconference) on Friday for the first time since trading a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Jaguars for quarterback Nick Foles.
The move for a veteran quarterback was expected, but it remained unclear what Foles' spot on the depth chart would be at the start of training camp. Would he begin the summer as the backup ready to step in if Mitch Trubisky falters? Or was he acquired to compete for the starting job in a fair and honest setting?
Pace answered that question Friday.
"It's an open competition," he said.
Nagy said Trubisky is handling the process well.
The NFL's offseason schedule has and will continue to be disrupted by the nation's battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, but it shouldn't have much of an impact on the Bears' quarterback competition. Foles is familiar with the offense and should have little to no learning curve under Nagy.
May the best man win.