Bears

Mullin, Florio talk Urlacher, Bears

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Mullin, Florio talk Urlacher, Bears

Its always a great chat with Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com and today was no exception. Few reporters have as strong a sense of the NFL overall, and Mike and I have successfully visited on the Bears in the past.

Among the issues Mike brought up and we covered on ProFootballTalk Live!:

Brian Urlachers status, injury and contract-wise

Urlacher is getting time off from full practice to do some rehab running on the knee injured during the final week of the season. A leg injury of any sort is a concern with a veteran player, especially one whose speed is key in his play and the defenses, but Urlacher and the Bears are being smart about this and he will be used judiciously throughout training camp. Id be surprised if he plays at all in game four, possibly even in game one of the preseason.

The Bears have taken care of Urlacher contractually with a couple of extensions. Best guess is that they will not send him into free agency when his deal is up after this season. Thats just bad PR with a pillar of the franchise.

And the Bears also have no succession plan in place, and that's perhaps another indicator of where they envision being with No. 54. Nick Roach can plan the Mike spot but thats a second-tier option. Nothing is done until its done, but an added year for Urlacher will make sense, as well as something for Lance Briggs as well.

The new Bears offense

Mike noted that some speculation is that the offense under Mike Tice will resemble the Minnesota offense when Tice was head coach there. He then added, Im not sure that would be a good thing.

Mike also wondered about the Bears becoming a more pass-oriented offense, which is a reasonable thought given the addition of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, who was with Marshall and Jay Cutler in Denver.

But as Ive noted before, and Marshall did as well, that Denver offense didnt win anything. The numbers were big; the key wins were not.

Lovie Smith is in a must-win year (another topic Mike raised) and he is not going to allow the offense to lose its compass as it did at the outset of both years under Mike Martz. The Bears now have the clear ability to be a big-game passing team but Smith wants sanity and balance. Tice brought that the past two years, and its unlikely the offense sets out to be an airshow.

But its a comfort for the Bears to know that they could be.

Biggest area of concern?

Based on this being the end of the offseason, with minicamp through Thursday, Mike wanted to know what was perhaps the one biggest area of concern. He and I have discussed in some depth the offensive-line situation, but I said that the tackle position on offense is not the one of most concern.

It would be the defensive tackle situation.

With Gabe Carimi, JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams, the Bears may not have incumbent Pro Bowlers. But all three tackles have started.

One defense, however, where Smiths scheme demands interior disruption from the three-technique, the Bears have only Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Matt Toeaina. Melton is in a contract year and flashed at times last year (seven sacks) and Paea started to show up later in the season.

But it is a perilously thin depth chart at a crucial spot, and Paea had knee problems last training camp. Best guess is that the Bears will be looking hard a cuts later in August for a fourth player, a veteran, to fortify what they have in front of Urlacher.

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

 BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Dear Tolliver clan:
 
I think most of you were there at practice today in your “Toliver II 33” T-shirts, including the three little guys in their “K. T. II Cousin” T’s. That’s pretty amazing support for an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback out of LSU, so you know I just had to intercept another pass for you guys, after the two yesterday. This one was off Tyler Bray throwing a ball to Anthony Miller, a rookie wide receiver who’s playing like anything but a rookie. Miller has amazing speed and is catching balls all over the field and having fun with the crowd. He stopped short of the end zone after one long catch, fans started yelling for him to score, so he backtracked fast and broke the plane of the goal line. Fans loved it.
 
Anthony made a diving catch 45 yards downfield off a throw from Chase Daniel (I won’t say against whom) and Mitch Trubisky and I think half the offense sprinted downfield to give him high-fives. Lotta energy on that side of the football. 
 
And we had some great defensive moments, too. Prince Amukamara broke and nearly intercepted at Mitch pass to Kevin White, and Bryce Callahan broke up one to Josh Bellamy one play later.
 
Meanwhile, the fans loved just about everything, this being the first practice the public could watch. They were even cheering completions in drills, especially Tarik Cohen, who seems like everybody’s favorite. They loved it (and so did the players) when tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride was up tight on guys to simulate press coverage and got faked right off his feet by Trey Burton working his release. But it was all in good fun, and Trey is a tough cover for us DB’s, let alone a coach.
 
Speaking of “coach,” coach Nagy said some nice things about me after practice, saying I’d flashed a few times and gotten turnovers, and “we stressed takeaways on defense and having interceptions is important. [Kevin’s] done that now the last couple of days. Kevin’s a big kid. He’s a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety. So for him to be able to move around out here, it’s about getting confidence. So any time he gets some interceptions, you’re going to build confidence.”
 
Coach Nagy said he needs to see me do it in pads, and we go in pads tomorrow for the first time. The hitting’ll really start then.
 
[signed] Your favorite family cornerback,
 
Kevin

 
Wanted: QB accuracy
 
Improving on the 59.4-percent completion rate he posted as a rookie was a prime directive for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but Saturday’s session was not a step in the right direction. Trubisky completed less than half of his throws in two 7-on-7 sessions that normally favor the quarterback and receiver. His accuracy rate was no better in the first full-team session but in the second he completed eight of 10, two for touchdowns.
 
Whether the issues were throwing accuracy, route-running or combination of elements wasn’t easily apparent, and coach Matt Nagy did not seem concerned.
 
“There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made out here; that’s what training camp’s all about,” Nagy said.
 
*                          *                          *
Sick bay
 
Guard Kyle Long, coming back from multiple surgeries, was given the first of his scheduled days off on Saturday. Veteran Earl Watford stepped in at right guard. Linebacker Danny Trevathan remained out with a hamstring issue, as did cornerback Sherrick McManis.
 
More concerning was the absence of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who injured a hamstring in Friday’s relatively light practice. It marked the third time this offseason that Lynch has been sidelined with injuries, following ankle and hamstring problems through OTA’s and minicamp.
 
*                          *                          *
 
It could happen….
 
Legendary NFL writer Peter King, who joined NBC Sports full time this year after nearly 30 years with Sports Illustrated, dropped by training camp as part of his annual “North American tour” and sat down for chats with this writer, which was a chance to recall some good times and stories as far back as Platteville. Peter and I did a little podcast that includes some Brian Urlacher, Mike Ditka and other tales, as well as Peter’s assessment of the Bears’ situation.
 
Interestingly, Peter does not rule out a season with as many as 10 W’s, despite being in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions with a first-year combination of coach-quarterback-system.
 
It could happen…..
 

 

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: