Bears

Rookie Enderle believes he's ready to play Sunday

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Rookie Enderle believes he's ready to play Sunday

In his coaches opinions, Nathan Enderles future may not be quite at hand. But as to whether he is ready to step on an NFL field as soon as next Sunday in Minnesota, Enderle doesnt hesitate.

Yeah, I am, he said Thursday.

Quarterbacks are supposed to be confident. Enderle is. And there is one big reason why Enderle, who is working like a No. 2 quarterback this week, is considerably more ready and confident now than even as recently as two weeks ago.

Josh McCown.

Hes going to be a good one, that guy, McCown told CSNChicago.com, nodding toward Enderle.

Long after practice again Thursday, after coaches and teammates, including Caleb Hanie, had gone in and practice equipment was being broken down, McCown and Enderle were still doing passing drills inside the Walter Payton Center.

But Enderle, the only player to be on the Bears 53-man roster all season and play in no games, wasnt the quarterback. He was the tight end. And the wide receiver. All the wide receivers, in fact.

Studying and working off a sheet of paper on the turf, McCown went over different routes, adjustments and decisions, then positioned Enderle to run the routes while McCown went through the play fakes, sometimes from a simulated direct snap, sometimes working from the shotgun. If the pass or the connection was a little off, McCown placed Enderle precisely where the throw was supposed to be caught and threw the pass again.

McCown knows the drill and the real benefits for both players: He played some wide receiver under coordinator Mike Martz back when the two were in Detroit.

Even just running the routes gives me a better idea of depths and understanding why they do certain things and run the routes, and that makes me a better quarterback, Enderle said.

Quarterbacks know all the routes but its good for me to know how theyre run, their landmarks and when they adjust and when they dont. Plus, it helps me stay in shape.

Whither Hanie?

Coaches said to put no stock in the fact that Hanie is not putting in the extra drill time. But where McCown is playing for a job opportunity next year and Enderle is assured of coming back for 2012, Hanie will not be. Hanie did not play in Green Bay and is not expected to get on the field in Minnesota.

Enderle, however, is another matter. If he in fact is not as ready as he believes he is, it ultimately reflects on a lack of player development by coordinator Martz and quarterbacks coach Shane Day.

The Bears are starting McCown because he gives them the best chance to win while at the same time giving them more of a body of work to evaluate for next season.

At this point, Enderle is the obvious play for next season. And if his work ethic even late in week 17 of a lost season is any indication, he may be the best chance to win after McCown as well.

He thinks hes ready, in any case.

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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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.”