The focus of attention this week has been on the man replacing Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker. Less has been on the man replacing Nick Roach.
And against the No. 1 running back in football, Geno Hayes looms as a more vulnerable fault line in the defense than Roach-for-Urlacher.
RELATED: Urlacher's future not dependent on Roach
This is not my first time around, Hayes insisted. Its not my first rodeo.
For NFL purposes, however, it pretty much is. Hayes is a career weak-side linebacker.
And sources told CSNChicago.com in training camp that Hayes, never a strong-side linebacker in his career, was initially something of a disappointment despite having come from a Tampa Bay scheme similar to the Bears. At one point, coaches tried Blake Costanzo at middle linebacker, leaving Roach in his usual spot and Hayes on the bench.
Hayes eventually established something with extensive preseason playing time, important now because he has never started a game at that position.
Now he starts there with exactly 48 defensive snaps this season and at 226 pounds, vs. Adrian Peterson, who is taller, faster and nearly as big as Hayes.
The problem becomes compounded because the Vikings have used 248-pound fullback Jerome Felton on 36 percent of their snaps this season.
And as the strong-side linebacker, Hayes' base position will be opposite tight end Kyle Rudolph, 6-6, 259 pounds and rarely off the field (725 of 788 Minnesota snaps).
How much Hayes picked up in his preseason time will be on display Sunday afternoon.
It was great getting good experience in the preseason, getting accustomed to the defense, accustomed with the guys. I was out there playing ball day in and day out. So, it was great. Its part of my job description.
Now it is his job description.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.
Head coach: Pat Ryan
Assistant coaches: Mike Thorgesen, Ryan Gierke, John Pavlak, Drew Sterkel, Matt Smith, Zack Martinelli, Ryan Noel, Mike Lotz, Anthony Mastropieri, Trevor McKeown and Alec Aurelio
How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference). The Knights made the Class 5A state playoff field. They defeated Lindblom, then lost to Sterling in second round action.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 @ Hinsdale South
Aug. 31 vs Geneva
Sept. 7 vs Rich Central
Sept. 14 @ Sterling
Sept. 21 vs DeKalb
Sept. 28 @ Sycamore
Oct. 5 @ Yorkville
Oct. 12 vs Morris
Oct. 19 vs Rochelle
[MORE: 95 Days to Kickoff - Waubonsie Valley]
Biggest storyline: Will the Knights leave their mark in the last season of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference?
Names to watch this season: RB Jonathan Alstott and OL/DL Drew Hahn.
Biggest holes to fill: The Knights will need to reload in a few key spots, especially at QB and on the O-line; however, they bring back a nice core of 11 returning starters (five offense, six defense).
EDGY's Early Take: The Knights are still in search of a new conference to call home after the 2018 season. The Northern Illinois Big 12 is in its last season under its current form. This year's Knights have a chance to get back to the state playoff field. The schedule is very tough, but this team will challenge every single week come August.
Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.
Eloy Jimenez hit his eighth home run of the season in a 7-3 loss. Zack Collins and Matt Rose each had a hit, a walk and a run scored. Ian Clarkin gave up five runs and walked five in his five innings. Seby Zavala, who leads the Southern League with 10 homers, went on the disabled list with a wrist injury.
Jordan Stephens had a good second outing at the Triple-A level, allowing just one earned run in his 6.1 innings. He allowed five hits and walked two, striking out four batters. In his two starts with Charlotte, he's got a 2.19 ERA with three earned runs allowed in 12.1 innings. Charlie Tilson doubled in the 12-6 win. Thyago Vieira gave up two runs in his lone inning of work, and his ERA stands at 5.85 on the season.
Class A Winston-Salem
The bats seem to have gone a tad cold for the Dash, who suffered a 4-1 loss. The top five hitters in the lineup — Joel Booker, Alex Call, Blake Rutherford, Micker Adolfo and Gavin Sheets — combined to go 2-for-18.
Class A Kannapolis
Lincoln Henzman gave up four earned runs in five innings, allowing a pair of home runs. Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 5-3 loss.