Bulls

Fire expect Friedrich back soon

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Fire expect Friedrich back soon

The Fire doesnt expect veteran German defender Arne Friedrich to miss much time after a right hamstring injury forced him out of Saturdays 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City after only 29 minutes.

Friedrich was scheduled for an MRI exam on Monday, and the team reported that he had a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Friedrich, commenting on Major League Soccers website, said his injury was "just a cramp."

His status for the next match, at Portland on Sunday, is uncertain, however.

"I guess its just because I didnt have a preseason and then played three games in a week (actually nine days)," said Friedrich, who had gone six months without playing a game before the Fire signed him in March.

He said his hamstring was "pretty tight.A couple days before it felt like it was a little tired. Its not like a knife in my hamstring. Its just a cramp."

The Fire (4-2-3) got by Sporting Kansas City, the Eastern Conference leader, by moving Jalil Anibaba from the right side into the middle beside rookie Austin Berry, who was playing in only his second MLS match. Dan Gargan, who had left the previous game early with a sprained ankle, returned at right back when Friedrich left the match.

Coach Frank Klopas gave his players Monday and Tuesday off this week after its first heavy stretch of games this season. The next match at Portland is against the last-place team in the Western Conference. The host Timbers (2-5-2), who visit the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday, were an expansion team last season but won both meetings against the Fire.

Meanwhile, ex-Fire player Wilman Conde-Roa was arrested in New Jersey for aggravated assault on a police officer who was investigating an early-morning noise complaint. Conde was an MLS All-Star during his 73-game stint with the Fire from 2007-10.

Conde, who played Friedrichs center back spot with the Fire, was a starter at that position for the New York Red Bulls until a recent injury sidelined him.

Bulls announce Neil Funk to cut back play-by-play schedule for 2018-19 season

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls announce Neil Funk to cut back play-by-play schedule for 2018-19 season

Neil Funk, the longtime television play-by-play annoucer for the Bulls, is cutting back his schedule for the 2018-19 season,

Tuesday, the Bulls annouced that Funk will be cutting 20 Bulls road games from his schedule this season. He will, however, be on the call for every preseason game and every home game for the Bulls this season.

“I’m thrilled to be back for another year calling Bulls games," Funk said in a press release. "The Bulls are such a terrific organization both on and off the court. I want to thank both Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf for their understanding and for allowing me to take a small step back in my broadcasting schedule after all these years.”

Funk is entering his 28th year annoucing Bulls' games and his 47th year in broadcasting overall. In the 20 games Funk will be absent, the Bulls plan to slot various play-by-play annoucers alongisde Funk's partner, Stacey King. Who those annoucers will be is not finalized just yet. 

Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf said the decision to give Funk 20 games off was "an easy call."

“Neil has established an impressive NBA broadcasting career spanning almost five decades,” said Michael Reinsdorf, Bulls President and COO. “We appreciate everything Neil does - he’s a pro’s pro who brings a wealth of basketball knowledge to every game.

"When he came to us with this request, it was an easy call – after more than 40 years, he has more than earned a few games off and we hope he and Renee enjoy their well-deserved breaks during the season.”

 

Bears notes: Unlikely contributors Bilal Nichols, Sherrick McManis come through in the clutch

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears notes: Unlikely contributors Bilal Nichols, Sherrick McManis come through in the clutch

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Bears got massive contributions on defense from the guys you’d expect, like Khalil Mack (two sacks, one forced fumble), Akiem Hicks (one sack, one forced fumble) and Eddie Jackson (one interception). But the collective effort put forth by this defense was exceedingly apparent in the final two drives of Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Facing a third-and-two at their own 42-yard line just after the two-minute warning, rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols blew up a Chase Edmonds run for a loss of three. On the next play, Bryce Callahan — who’s had a fantastic start to 2018 — picked off Josh Rosen, making sure the Cardinals didn’t get into range for what could’ve been a game-winning field goal. 

“It was a great call by coach Vic (Fangio),” Nichols said. “My teammates did a real good job of executing everything and then I kind of relied on my training and just read my keys and tried to make a play. 

“… I knew it was third and one and I knew it probably was going to be a run play, so I just tried to be as disruptive as possible.”

The Cardinals got the ball back and got near midfield with five seconds left — in range, at least, for Rosen to fire a Hail Mary toward the end zone. But instead of dropping eight or nine into coverage, Fangio sent a blitz, and Sherrick McManis — the ace special teamer who also picked off his first pass in eight years on Sunday — hit home for a game-ending sack. 

“I love it,” McManis said. “It was a great call. Coaches did an awesome job putting us in the right places and we did a good job of executing.”

The Bears' defense isn't having the success it is just because of Mack, or some of the top-end players on it. The across-the-board contributions it's getting from every corner of the depth chart is key in that dominance, too. 

Quiet, Please

The Cardinals aren’t the first Phoenix-area sports team to feel like they don’t have much of a home field/court/rink advantage when a squad from Chicago comes to town, that’s for sure. But Bears fans travelled so well to Glendale on Sunday that the Cardinals almost had to do something that’s usually reserved for road games. 

“It’s tough. There were a few times that we thought we were going to have to go silent cadence but if you’re not winning, the fans aren’t going to come out,” Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “If we go out and put a better product on the field, fans will come out and watch us and support us.”

No matter how expected it may be, it was still a striking sight to see Bears players — like Mack and Jackson — raise their arms in the air to encourage a crowd to make more noise at a road game. 

Mack Attack

Mack had an interesting description of his forced fumble, which came when Bradford tried to scramble into the Bears’ red zone early in the fourth quarter. It was a pivotal play in the game, and led to an offensive drive that ended with Cody Parkey’s game-winning field goal. 

But in light of the NFL’s raging, self-inflicted controversy about its roughing the passer rule, how Mack explained making that play stands out.

“I knew he was going to have the ball in his right hand, got my head out of the way because that’s a big part of the rules nowadays, and tried to make a play,” Mack said. “It was what we worked on all week, punching the ball out. That’s what coaches were preaching all week.”

So on a Sunday on which Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews was again flagged for roughing the passer after landing on a quarterback, and in a climate where lowering the head constitutes a penalty, Mack pulled off a game-changing play without doing anything the NFL rulebook considers illegal. The Bears have not been flagged for roughing the passer this year, and instead have had multiple strip-sacks in each of their first three games.