Blackhawks

Hester's special package

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Hester's special package

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been in the news lately after his recent column for the Chicago Sun Times discussing the passing of Junior Seau and the stigmas of mental health.

Marshall recently joined the Waddle and Silvy show of ESPN Chicago 1000 to talk about his column and teammate Devin Hesters ability to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Does Hester have what it takes to be a Pro Bowler in 2012?

No one would argue Hesters special abilities; when some tacklers flail at air while defenders in pursuit see real estate widen, Hester pulls away with sheer speed. But what is Hesters special package GM Phil Emery discussed post draft? Can this package propel Hester to a Pro Bowl wide receiver?

Numbers to Contemplate

Here are regular season numbers from 2011 NFC Pro Bowlers:

Roddy White (Falcons) - 100 receptions, 1,290 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Calvin Johnson (Lions) - 96 receptions, 1,681 yards, 16 touchdowns.

Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) - 80 receptions, 1,411 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Miles Austin (Cowboys) - 43 receptions, 579 yards, 8 touchdowns. It is highly debatable for Austin to even be in the Pro Bowl, but other NFC receivers like Carolinas Steve Smith (79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 touchdowns) bowed out.

Additional Top NFC wide receiver numbers

Hakeem Nicks (Giants) - 76 receptions, 1,192 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson (Packers) - 68 receptions, 1,263 yards, 15 touchdowns.

Victor Cruz (Giants) - 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Marshall believes Hester will have a bigger year on offense this season, stating, Honestly, I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just dont think hes been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player.

This is a pretty big statement by Marshall, who logged had 81 catches, 1,214 yards, and 6 touchdowns last season. One would assume the Bears would like this type of production to continue from Marshall if not improve when combined with solid quarterback play from Jay Cutler.

Marshall believes the addition of new quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, as well as Jay Cutlers growth at quarterback, will make all the difference for Hesters production at wideout. Marshall said, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do some damage.

Judging by the numbers from other every down wide receivers in the NFC rather than package players, it is difficult to project Devin Hester to a Pro Bowl. Hester is coming off his worst season with 26 receptions, 369 yards, and only 1 touchdown. Injury held Hester back in 2011, but his 5 year average only consists of 39 receptions a season since his conversion in 2006. Hesters biggest year was 2009 where he caught a career high 57 balls for only 757 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is hardly Pro Bowl worthy.

A lot depends on the special package for Hester, but it is hard to make an impact as a player when you are on and then off the field.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.