Bears

NFL Draft Profile: Ohio State CB Eli Apple

NFL Draft Profile: Ohio State CB Eli Apple

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 150 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Eli Apple (CB), Ohio State

6’1” | 191 lbs.

2015 stats:

33 tackles, 7 PD, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR

Projection:

1st Round

Scouting Report:

"Highly recruited two­-year starter who is entering the draft as a draft eligible redshirt sophomore. Apple's size and strength allows him to compete against physical receivers, but he also has the talent to mirror and match as a man defender. Covering for longer could be challenging early on after playing with talented defensive fronts who ravaged quarterbacks. Apple will have to learn to trust his feet rather than grabbing so often or he'll find that quarterbacks and refs will find him often." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

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Ravens sign former Bears kicker Elliott Fry

Ravens sign former Bears kicker Elliott Fry

After getting released by the Bears on Aug. 18, kicker Elliott Fry has a new gig.

Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens announced that they've signed Fry.

The signing is a rather curious one for the Ravens, as incumbent kicker Justin Tucker is one of the best in the NFL. The Ravens may have just signed Fry for the remainder of the preseason, as they don't want to risk Tucker getting hurt before the regular season begins.

Fry went 1-for-2 on field goals in the preseason with the Bears (hitting from 43, missing from 47) while hitting both of the his extra point attempts. Although releasing Fry left Eddy Pineiro as the lone kicker on the Bears roster, the latter hasn't won the job just yet. 

Pineiro did convert on a 58-yard try in Saturday's game against the Colts, perhaps moving him one step closer to locking the job down.

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Could Alex Bars solve the Bears' growing tackle problem?

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USA Today

Could Alex Bars solve the Bears' growing tackle problem?

INDIANAPOLIS — Three years ago, Harry Hiestand needed Alex Bars to play tackle. The then-Notre Dame offensive line coach had a hole to fill after Ronnie Stanley left for the NFL, and with Mike McGlinchey locked in to one starting gig, Hiestand hoped his former four-star recruit could succeed as a right tackle. 

“I think for what we need for our team, he definitely needs to play tackle,” Hiestand said at the time. “We need another guy that can play tackle so he’s being pushed in that role right now. … But he’s a very good guard, too. He’s a very flexible guy.”

The point of bringing up this quote from an old media availability at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex in South Bend is this: Hiestand, now the Bears' offensive line coach, needed Bars to play tackle Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts

With four-year NFL veteran T.J. Clemmings carted to the locker room with a right leg injury late in the second quarter of Saturday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium, and with second-year tackle Rashaad Coward already out with an elbow injury, the Bears suddenly had a red-line need at tackle. Cornelius Lucas, a five-year veteran, was badly beat numerous times in the first half, which didn’t feel like an anomaly based on his prior preseason performance. Bradley Sowell, the team’s backup swing tackle for the last two seasons, was moved to tight end this spring, and shed plenty of weight to make that transition.  

So the Bears called on Bars, who last played tackle in 2016 with Notre Dame, to play left tackle for two quarters. The result was notably positive. 

“I thought he did a great job,” Nagy said. “I was happy for him. You never know what you’re going to get, but he does have experience playing at Notre Dame there at that position. You could see that come out, which was good.”

Bars had already made a strong push to make the Bears’ roster over the last month as a guard, the position he played at Notre Dame following that 2016 season before a torn ACL and MCL ended his 2018 season prematurely — and knocked him from being a mid-round draft prospect to undrafted free agent. Showing the Bears he can play tackle should only help his case to survive the cut.

Still, two quarters of playing tackle against mostly third-stringers won't necessarily lead the Bears to trust Bars in a similar spot when the games matter in the regular season. 

The good news for the Bears is starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. has proven to be one of the team’s most durable players over the last few years — he played every offensive snap in 2016 and 2017, and only didn’t in 2018 because Nagy removed most of his team’s starters during a relatively meaningless Week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Right tackle Bobby Massie played all 16 games for the Bears in 2018, though he did miss a single game in both 2016 and 2017. 

But the Bears’ depth behind Leno and Massie feels like a problem. Bars, at the least, offered a glimmer of hope Saturday night that he could be the solution to it. 

“When you got some of your linemen on the sideline coming up to you that aren’t playing telling you man, he’s really doing well,” Nagy said, “you know he stands out.”

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