Cubs

Cutler must be cautious against Panthers

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Cutler must be cautious against Panthers

By this point, everyone has seen the vicious hit Bears quarterback Jay Cutler sustained last week from Lions defensive tackle Ndamakung Suh. Fortunately, Cutler only suffered bruised ribs from the hit and avoided what could have a significant shoulder injury. He toughed it out and finished the game against the Lions, but the injury left him feeling uncomfortable during the duration of the game.

There hasn't really been any clarification on what Cutlers injury entails other than bruised ribs. Cutler has expressed being sore all week, but has been able to practice. In my experience, bruised ribs can be nagging, linger, and take a long time to heal if damage to rib cartilage is involved. Just about every breath you take is an uncomfortable reminder of the problem, and most defenders will try to hit you in the rib strike zone, which is below the neck and above the waist just due to the rules of the game. 

It will be imperative for Cutler, when facing the Carolina Panthers, not to take any unnecessary hits. Bears fans should look to see if most hits to Cutler are focused to the midsection area. Panthers players know where Cutler is hurting. Put the New Orleans Saints Bounty nonsense aside, but it is only realistic to expect Cutlers ribs will be targeted from a rules standpoint alone  It is the area of the body most quarterbacks take hits within the pocket and is also why bruised ribs take a long time to heal because those hits keep aggravating an already sore injury. Every time I thought I was healed, I would get tagged inflaming the area again and the healing process had to start over.   

Running out of bounds, sliding, and throwing the ball away all need to be utilized by Cutler starting against the Panthers. Cutler, the organization, and Bears fans know all too well what life can be like without their starting quarterback on the field from last season.

Hot Stove: AJ Pollock could be the player to fill the Cubs needs

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USA TODAY

Hot Stove: AJ Pollock could be the player to fill the Cubs needs

Six players turned down qualifying offers in baseball, and they are quality names in LHP Patrick Corbin, C Yasmani Grandal, OF Bryce Harper, LHP Dallas Keuchel, reliever Craig Kimbrel and OF A.J. Pollock. It’s the last name that piqued the interest of Cubs Insider Tony Andracki, who told me on our Hot Stove show on Facebook Live Tuesday at 12:30, that while all eyes are on Harper, Pollock is a player who could fit the Cubs’ needs. 

“The interesting name is A.J. Pollock, depending what the market is for him, because he’s a guy that when he’s able to stay healthy, and he hasn’t really been healthy for about five years now, but when he’s able to stay healthy, he’s a dynamic player who would really shake up that offense, and he’s also a leadoff hitter,” Andracki said. “The Cubs need a stable leadoff hitter and he’s a guy they could look at.”

Hot Stove

Time for your weekly dose of HOT STOVE! 1. The White Sox are shopping Avi Garcia...to make room for Bryce Harper? 2. BIGGEST Takeaways from the GM Meetings. 3. Will we be celebrating an Eloy 'Rookie of the Year Award' after next season?

Posted by NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pollock has played in only 469 games over the last five seasons. He played 113 in 2018, and batted .257 with 21 home runs and 65 RBI, and broke his thumb in May. His all-star season was in 2015, when he played in 157 games, hit .315, had 20 home runs and 76 RBI. Pollock turns 31 on December 5. 

If the Cubs were to sign Pollock in the current circumstances, they would have to give up their pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the June 2019 First-year player draft, and $500,000 of their international bonus pool money. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, a team signing a player who turned down a qualifying offer would have to give up a supplemental first-round draft pick. 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakout stars re-shaping the league

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: Breakout stars re-shaping the league

As we near the 15 games played mark, the league's top teams (and some of the struggling ones too) are being aided along by new developments in the playing styles' of their talent.

The Bulls have struggled mightliy with a large batch of regulars missing time but have seen tremendous growth from Zach LaVine, as well as rookies Wendell Carter and Chandler Hutchison. 

Over in the West, the Houston Rockets found out that success is not so easy to translate over to the next year. Their defensive efficiency has fallen and their offense has been largely ineffective, and it is no doubt connected to the loss of their defensive-minded wings in Luc Richard Mbah Moute and Trevor Ariza. It is not all on his shoulders, but the Carmelo Anthony experiment seems to be coming to an end just as quickly as it started. 

With the Bucks, Nuggets, Raptors and Sixers—following the massive news of the their Jimmy Butler acquisition—all looking to be real challenegers to the Golden State Warriors, the regular season wins race will be a little more interesting than usual. Home-court advanatge in the NBA Finals could be the difference between taking the Warriors 6+ games or being swept. 

So keep an eye on who is maintaining contol of the NBA's overall No. 1 playoff seed as the Dubs head into a tough three-game road trip in Texas. In this week's NBA Power Rankings, we take also take a look at which player has been on the verge of a breakout season for each team here.