Bears

Replacing Kevin White, ex-QB Cam Meredith putting QB experience to use

Replacing Kevin White, ex-QB Cam Meredith putting QB experience to use

When he went from St. Joseph’s High School in Westchester to Illinois State, Cameron Meredith went as a quarterback, and he played there sparingly through his sophomore year.

Then he switched to wide receiver as a junior and played well enough to eventually make the Bears as an undrafted free agent. But he never entirely stopped thinking like a quarterback.

“A little bit. It’s started to kind of fade away,” said Meredith, whose 40 snaps over the past two games included 26 in the win over Detroit when Kevin White suffered a potentially season-ending broken leg. “It helps a little bit but it’s a little different on the other side of the fence. You’ve definitely got to get on the same page as the quarterback and those things kind of take care of themselves.”

Meredith played in 11 games last season, with zero starts and a total of 134 snaps. Now he confronts coaches with a decision.

Eddie Royal has regained explosiveness after an injury-marred 2015, but Royal did not withstand the rigors and assaults of starting and was himself lost for a combined seven games because of an ankle injury, a knee injury and illness. Royal has played the fewest snaps of the Bears’ top three wideouts prior to White’s injury, and inserting him into the starting lineup, in addition to his nickel-package responsibilities, could break the smallish Royal.

Additionally, Meredith as a backup spent most of his training camp and preseason working with quarterback Brian Hoyer, now the presumptive starter.

“I’ve been working with Brian for a while now because I was working with the ‘2’s’ for a little bit,” Meredith said. “I think it’s different for everybody, but Brian has definitely stepped up and made a lot of big plays and we’re getting a lot more comfortable with his ball and his release and stuff like that. It’s good to get on the same page with him early and going forward.”

[RELATED: Bears place Kevin White on IR with fracture fibula]

Significantly, Meredith has indeed appeared to be on a same page with Hoyer. The quarterback targeted him as many times – five – in the Detroit game as he did Alshon Jeffery, and that in less than half the number of snaps that Jeffery played. And “targets” in part reflect a quarterback’s confidence in a receiver.

Meredith caught all three throws to him on a critical drive for a field goal midway through the second half. That field goal was the winning margin.

“I’ve been impressed with Cam,” Hoyer said. “I think skill-wise he’s big, he’s fast. I think you have seen that the last two weeks — the one in Dallas where he went up and snatched it and even this past week, he had a good catch on one of the rollouts where he went up and grabbed it.

“His hands are impressive for being a guy who hasn’t really played receiver that long, I know he’s a former quarterback. He’s going to get his opportunity to step up and I think he’s made strides to be ready for that opportunity.”

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

The Bears suffered a heartbreaking defeat (that makes two of those), but the Bulls are days away from the start of a new season and the Blackhawks did something that has never happened before in sports history.

Bears

The Bears had a slow first half, failing to score against the shorthanded Dolphins, but picked things up in the third quarter. It all fell apart late in the fourth quarter and then again in overtime in a 31-28 defeat. Miami went up against the Bears without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Brock Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. What does that say about the Bears' defense?

Matt Nagy was a bit chippy with the media after the game, but there were still positive signs from the offense.

Plus, Dwyane Wade was there and repped the Bears on the road.

Bulls

The Bulls wrapped up the preseason Friday with a 98-93 loss to the Nuggets. Wendell Carter Jr. and Bobby Portis both showed well in the preseason finale and Jabari Parker flashed his potential as well.

With the preseason complete, Mark Strotman graded each player on the Bulls roster. You may not want to calculate the team GPA.

The roster is being finalized as well, with Ryan Arcidiacono making the team and local product Tyler Ulis getting picked up off waivers.

Blackhawks

Saturday was an eventful day for the Blackhawks. First, it marked the 1,000th career game for Duncan Keith. Keith talked about the emotional night after the game.

As for the game itself, the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime. That was the second time the Hawks beat the Blues in OT this season, adding to a 5-4 OT win in St. Louis on Oct. 6.

Unbelievably, that was the fifth straight OT game for the Blackhawks. Every game has gone to overtime this season, and not one of those has even gone to a shootout. No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Overtimes are more rare in other sports, but that also holds true for the NBA, NFL and MLB.

The Hawks don't play against until Thursday, when the host Arizona.

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — In a game full of pivotal moments, one seemed to irk the Bears in particular following Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Driving on the Dolphins three-yard line, the Bears lined up in a T formation with Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen lined up left to right in the backfield behind Mitch Trubisky, who was under center. Burton motioned out of the backfield and to the right, and ran his route into linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Trubisky threw a short pass to a wide open Cohen for a touchdown, with Alonso late getting to the running back after being hit by Burton. But that score was taken off the board for offensive pass interference, with officials ruling what Burton did amounted to an illegal pick play.

“Trey did everything I asked him to do,” Matt Nagy said, sharply.

On the next play, Trubisky forced a pass into double coverage in the end zone, which was easily picked off by Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald. Miami turned that interception into eight points on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion.

The way Burton understood the rule was that offensive pass interference was only assessed on a pick play if he intentionally ran into a defender without running a true route. That’s what Burton felt he did; the officiating crew disagreed.

“I thought I ran a route and the guy ran into me,” Burton said. “I thought they changed the rule this year or last year — if you run the route, it doesn’t matter if you pick the guy or not, you’re good. Obviously they called it.”

A Rough Return

The conversations surrounding the Bears Sunday into Monday would be awfully different had a number of things happened — Trubisky doesn’t throw that interception, the Bears’ defense gets a stop, Tarik Cohen doesn’t fumble near midfield, etc. In that same group: If Cody Parkey hits what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime.

Parkey, instead, missed that kick wide right. His career long is 54 yards, which he hit last year while with the Miami Dolphins (and that was a game-winner with about a minute left against the Los Angeles Chargers).

“I had the distance, I just didn’t kick it straight enough, bottom line,” Parkey said. “But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game winners, I’ve missed game winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.

“… I control what I can control, and unfortunately I missed a field goal. I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”