Bears

'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

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'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 3:29 p.m. Updated: 6:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Brian Urlacher was at Halas Hall and at practice Thursday. But running back Marion Barber (calf) was out on Thursday after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, not a good sign for Sunday. Guard Lance Louis (ankle), safety Chris Harris and receiver Roy Williams (groin) also did not practice Thursday.

The impact of Urlachers return following some time away after his mother Lavoyda died earlier this week was immediate.

His play speaks for itself, as good as anybody in this league for a lot of years, said coordinator Rod Marinelli. What else he brings is leadership to the defense, knowledge, command of the huddle, command of the system. Hes got a Ph.D in this system and it shows.

Hes the leader of our defense and in the locker room. They just have so much respect for him and not just as a player; how he conducts himself. Hes a pro, a real pro.

Looking ahead
Checked in with the folks on Versus to talk a bit of Bears-Saints this afternoon from 5-6 p.m.

"Where's Waldo?" NFL-style

The New Orleans Saints do not have one of the NFLs taller offensive lines. Only right tackle Zach Strief (6-7) is taller than 6-5, and center Olin Kreutz is 6-2. By contrast, the Bears have three linemen 6-6 or taller plus two tight ends each 6-7.

But the Saints have a running back in Darren Sproles who is nearly a foot shorter than his blockers. What that means is, good luck finding Sproles in among the tall timber, particularly with the Bears fielding defensive ends Israel Idonije (6-6) and Julius Peppers (6-7).

Theyve got big linemen, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the little guy behind there. You know, scatback; hes a fast guy with quick little feet. He reminds me of one of those old Scooby Doo cartoons.

But seriously, folks...

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has moved from the sidelines to the coaches booth on game days. He definitely took his sense of humor with him, too.

The advantage of being in the booth calling plays?

Good hot dogs, he quipped, laughing, then gave the real answer. Its quiet. You have a chance to take notes, and sort through things. Youre quicker with calls. I hadnt been up there in a long time, but its good. I like it.

Tweet, tweet

Brian Urlacher used his new Twitter account (@BUrlacher54) to thank well-wishers in the wake of his mother Lavoydas death earlier this week. He also sent along some good news on the football side of things:

Back at practice. Thank you for your thoughts. Please send donations to: The Lavoyda Fund co City of Lovington. Urlacher is from Lovington, N.M.

Punch it up?

Not long after he was drafted by the Bears in 1998, native Hawaiian Olin Kreutz asked me, tongue-in-cheek because he was a rookie and an offensive lineman at that, about endorsement possibilities. He already had a rep as a tough guy from a fracas with a college teammate, so he had an idea.

How about Hawaiian Punch, he said, laughing.

The Bears lost an enforcer when Kreutz signed with the New Orleans Saints. He has not been a fighter in games -- the really tough guys dont have to prove it very often -- but he is never reluctant to deliver shots within the flow of the game.

Im sure that there will be some words exchanged, said linebacker Lance Briggs. There will be some good contact, you know. Maybe there will be some blows.

He laughed: But if theres blows exchanged, hopefully Im giving them and not receiving them.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

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USA Today

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

Jordan Howard has accomplished some pretty amazing things to start his career. Most notably, he's the only running back in Chicago Bears franchise history to finish his first two seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards, including 1,313 yards as a rookie, good for a team rookie record.

Still, Howard has been the target of criticism this offseason because of his questionable set of hands. He was plagued by a case of the drops last season and he's been labeled as a guy who can't catch the ball heading into 2018. Combine that with the player nipping at his heels -- Tarik Cohen -- and the overwhelming theory advanced by analysts is that he'll give way to Cohen on passing downs.

This presumption has made its way into the world of fantasy football, too. Howard is rarely if ever mentioned as one of the first running backs that should be drafted this summer and in a recent player vs. player showdown on Pro Football Focus, 49ers starter Jerick McKinnon was selected as a more appealing fantasy starter in 2018.

It’s close, but I give the nod to Jerick McKinnon. Howard’s troubles in the passing game are very real and it’s clear the Bears want to focus on that more this year. Meanwhile, McKinnon was handed a fat contract and has little competition when it comes to carries.

McKinnon, a career backup, was signed by San Franciso to be Kyle Shanahan's feature running back. He has a real chance to be a stud in fantasy circles, but should he be valued over a guy like Howard who's proven to be a contender for the NFL's rushing crown?

All of this offseason chatter will serve as great motivation for Howard who has to prove, first and foremost, that he can be a three-down back for coach Matt Nagy in the Bears' new offense. If he has a consistent training camp as a receiver and carries that momentum into the preseason and regular season, those fantasy players who draft McKinnon or another less-proven player over Howard will long for a redo.

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

Eddie Goldman is entering the final year of his contract this season and in order to cash in on a big payday, he'll need to stay healthy and make good on his top-tier potential. 

If he does, he'll become a very wealthy man and the Bears defense will have an even better year than its top-10 finish a season ago.

Goldman, 24, came to Chicago via the second round of the 2015 NFL draft and quickly became a household name among Bears fans. He started 12 games that season and finished with a surprising 4 1/2 sacks, a total that was more productive than his college scouting report predicted. He was pegged as a breakout star for 2016, but injuries ultimately derailed his second season. He played only six games that year (started five) but still flashed a surprisingly productive set of pass-rush traits; he finished 2016 with 2 1/2 sacks.

This past season represented something of a mixed bag for Goldman. He started 15 games and quieted some of the injury concerns that started bubbling around him, but his production dipped. He managed only 1 1/2 sacks. That said, he set a career-high with 27 tackles, nearly doubling his output as a rookie.

Still, Goldman wasn't a dominant force in 2017. He finished the year ranked 69th among interior defenders with a 76.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Despite being healthy and available, it was the lowest season grade of his career from PFF.

Nose tackle is arguably the most critical position for any defense running a 3-4 scheme. It's no exception in Chicago. Goldman will set the table for linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith and the more bodies he can consume or attention he can draw from offensive lines, the more room second-level defenders will have to work. It's not just about filling up the stat sheet for Goldman. If he clogs running lanes and collapses the pocket consistently, he'll be worth every penny of a big contract extension despite lacking numbers.

The Bears need Goldman to bring his A-game in 2018, especially as a pass rusher. Chicago resides in arguably the most talented quarterback division in the NFL and for the defense to make those quarterbacks uncomfortable, Goldman has to apply pressure up the middle. He's proven he can do it, as evidenced by his rookie year production. But he's been on a steady decline in this area of his game since then and there's no room for more regression in 2018.

Players entering contract years tend to bring extra motivation to the field and there's no reason to expect anything less from Goldman. If he can combine his rookie year production with last season's availability, he could end up with the most well-rounded year of his career en route to leading the Bears' defensive line on a late-season playoff push.