Bears

NFL Draft Profile: Fresno State WR Josh Harper

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NFL Draft Profile: Fresno State WR Josh Harper

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of 200 prospects, including what the scouts around the league are saying and video interviews with each player.

Josh Harper (WR), Fresno State

6’1” | 191 lbs.

2014 stats:

90 rec, 1097 yards, 7 TD

Projection:

5th-6th round

What scouts are saying:

"Long-waisted wide receiver who is quicker than fast. Harper was a possession receiver at Fresno State and NFL cornerbacks will likely press him to make him win at the line of scrimmage. With work on his routes, Harper has the feet, body control and hands to get open and become a viable NFL target. His ability to make plays after the catch will improve his draft stock." - NFL.com's Lance Zierlein

"Intriguing athlete who emerged as a stronger, more disciplined player the past two seasons. Accelerates well and does a nice job mixing gears, turning on the jets with smooth strides to gain a step vertically and stretch the field. He has a quick burst off the snap and can stick his foot in the turf and explode out of his cuts to gain separation. Good hand-eye coordination to extend for the difficult reception away from his frame and shows some toughness in hanging on after absorbing the big hit. Uses his broad shoulders to effectively seal defenders away from the ball on slants." - CBS Sports' Dane Brugler and Rob Rang

"Lean limbed with limited power, which makes him unreliable in jump-ball situations and as a blocker. Inconsistent with his timing to win at the catch-point, too often losing out to shorter defenders on 50-50 balls. Some wasted movement as a route-runner and after he catches the pass. Dances too much trying to make defenders miss with rather than burrowing his head and getting what he can. Only average balance to run through arm tackles. Struggled with injuries over his first two playing seasons at Fresno State after redshirting in 2010. Missed a total of eight games in 2011-12 with various injuries, including a sports hernia, hamstring and undisclosed foot injury." - CBS Sports' Dane Brugler and Rob Rang

Fit for the Bears:

He's not going to make anyone forget about Brandon Marshall, but Green Bay's Davante Adams proved a year ago that Fresno State wide receivers can live up to the hype even though they're not from Power 6 schools. The key with Harper, according to the above scouts, was that he continued to grow as a player, physically and mentally. That could be good for a Bears team that likely won't be contending this season. He could learn a thing or two from Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal. That being said, if the Bears go with Amari Cooper or Kevin White at No. 7 this won't be a need in the middle rounds.

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Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”