Some around Halas Hall believe Bears are getting 'all the pieces in place'

Some around Halas Hall believe Bears are getting 'all the pieces in place'

Prior to the 1996 season, coming off a 9-7 year and near-miss of the playoffs, then-coach Dave Wannstedt didn’t back away from how he felt about the coming year:

“All the pieces are in place,” he told Chicago Tribune writer Don Pierson.

And they might have been, for maybe three weeks, before quarterback Erik Kramer was lost to what was effectively a broken neck. The pieces ended up in, well, pieces.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is not issuing a full declaration that the pieces are again in place. But with the return of Pro Bowl guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, nickel receiver Eddie Royal, plus presumably nose tackle Eddie Goldman and cornerback Bryce Callahan on the defensive side, Cutler knows something of how Wannstedt was feeling.

“Offensively we’ve kind of got all our pieces back together,” Cutler said on Thursday. “We’re getting the full deck back together again, which is going to make it easier for the play-callers, diagramming stuff and guys making plays for us.”

The one piece of the offense still missing is wide receiver Kevin White, leading the team in catches before suffering a broken leg in the Detroit game. Running back Jeremy Langford has returned from a high-ankle sprain to find Jordan Howard playing better than he was and ensconced as the starter in a play-the-hot-hand backfield.

The pieces-in-place feeling has filtered into the defense with the impact return of rush linebacker Pernell McPhee and rookie Leonard Floyd shaking off injuries that cost him two games, coming back with three sacks in his last two games.

“You have to understand that those guys were the guys who were on the field initially,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks. “You expect him to return and when he does, you expect to be better because of it.”

None of which was meant to denigrate the work of the reserves. The play of multiple subs like Will Sutton at nose tackle was strong, and leaves the depth chart fortified even as Sutton, guards Ted Larsen and Eric Kush and others return to reserve roles.

“Those two [guards] deserve a lot of credit as well, getting themselves ready to play,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “But obviously any time you get your original guy, your original starters out there, it’s a big plus.”

Robbie Gould-Bears reunion appears to be all but dead

Robbie Gould-Bears reunion appears to be all but dead

Any chance of a Robbie Gould-Bears reunion happening for the 2019 season seems to be all but dead.

Monday, 49ers general manager John Lynch said that Gould will be with the team in 2019.

“Robbie is going to be a part of us this coming year, I know that,” Lynch said. “We would like it to be longer than that. We’ve made an attempt to make it happen. We haven’t come to an agreement as of yet, and we’ll see where that goes.

“But Robbie will be a part of us this coming year, and we’re excited for that because he’s very good at what he does and he’s also a big part of this team.”

Gould joined the 49ers in March 2017 on a two-year, $4 million contract. The 49ers placed the franchise tag on Gould on February 26, though the 36-year-old kicker has yet to sign the one-year, $4.9 million tender.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area, Gould is not participating in the 49ers' offseason program—he isn't obligated to do so— instead working out in the Chicago area. NBC Sports Bay Area also reported that the 49ers hope to re-sign Gould to a multi-year deal and spoke to the kicker's representation at the NFL Combine.

Lynch's declaration doesn't guarantee that Gould will sign the franchise tender, but it does indicate that he isn't on the market. Essentially, if Gould plays in the NFL in 2019, he will be with the 49ers. 

The Bears released Cody Parkey on March 13 after a rough first season in Chicago. This offseason, the team has added kickers Redford JonesChris Blewitt and Elliott Fry. The Bears are expected to add more kickers to the competition as the offseason moves along.

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Tarik Cohen admits losing Jordan Howard ‘hurt me a little bit’

Tarik Cohen admits losing Jordan Howard ‘hurt me a little bit’

The Jordan Howard trade was tough for Tarik Cohen.

The two Bears running backs had formed a backfield bond over the last two seasons, and Cohen was there to support him during the rumors and eventual move to Philadelphia.

“I was really following after him as soon as I came to the Bears because I was one year behind him, so he could tell me everything to do because he had already been through it,” Cohen said Monday. “Losing him, it hurt me a little bit. I’m not going to lie. It hurt me, because that’s like my brother.”

Both running backs understand football is a business as they go their separate ways. Cohen’s “brother” will get to work in the city of brotherly love, while the North Carolina native continues to go out in his adopted community.

Cohen and Bears chairman George McCaskey met with members of Heartland Alliance’s Rapid Employment and Development Initiative in Chicago as part of the team’s effort to combat gun violence.

“I wear a ‘C’ on my helmet every Sunday, and every time I play a game,” Cohen said. “So I feel like it’s necessary for me to get inside the community and see what’s going on, and to help any way I can.”

With Howard exchanging his “C” for green wings, Cohen is now the running back a year ahead in Matt Nagy’s offense as Mike Davis joins the backfield.

The former Seattle Seahawk is just getting to know Halas Hall in the first phase of the offseason program, but he and Cohen had already connected through a mutual friend — fellow North Carolina native Todd Gurley.

“Mike, he’s like one of the guys,” Cohen said. “He’s already fitting in the locker room. Everybody’s already getting along cool.”

Just like that, life moves on without Howard in Chicago. Cohen expects Ryan Pace to add a rookie to the backfield too, and then it’ll be his turn to be the mentor.

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