Bears

Kelly on QB swaps: 'We'd like our starter to finish the game'

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Kelly on QB swaps: 'We'd like our starter to finish the game'

Brian Kelly's decision to insert Tommy Rees late in Saturday's win over Purdue sent shockwaves through Notre Dame nation -- will Everett Golson have to look over his shoulder every time the clock winds down in a close game?

On Sunday, Kelly didn't rule out another late-game Rees substitution, although it doesn't sound like the third-year Notre Dame coach is itching to make that decision again.

"Iif we feel like Tommy can help us win a game or he can come in in a situation where we believe it's the right fit, then he'll be prepared to do so," Kelly said. "I use this baseball analogy: We would like our starters to finish the game. We want them to go all nine innings. But occasionally, you may need some help. Maybe you need long relief and maybe you need some short relief.

"I don't want to take anything off the table, but we like our starter to start and finish it."

While Golson -- who completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown -- wasn't pleased with the decision to go with Rees, Kelly said that's only natural, and that the sophomore responded well in backing his teammates.

"Anybody that gets taken out of the game is going to react in a manner that he wants to play, and if they don't, I don't want him to be our quarterback," Kelly said. "I know Everett wanted to be in the game and that's a good thing. But he's been supported by Tommy and Andrew (Hendrix), and now it was his chance to support Tommy in that situation. He's a young man that's understanding and growing every day, and we won't have any issues moving forward."

Sick bay

It looks like all of Notre Dame's banged-up players from Saturday will be ready for Sept. 15's contest at Michigan State.

Safety Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder) and tight end Tyler Eifert (mild concussion) have been cleared, while defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf) is improving and is likely to be cleared this week. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (ankle) is a little more uncertain, although Kelly expects him to be ready for Michigan State.

Minor knocks to Golson (thumb), Manti Te'o (sternum) and Ishaq Williams (elbow) won't keep them out of action this week.

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

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Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

As the Bears set their foundation for training camp during OTAs this month, one part of that is beginning to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses on which to build in Bourbonnais. 

Designing an offense to Mitch Trubisky’s strengths was one of the reasons why Ryan Pace hired Matt Nagy, who then hired Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. Easy is the wrong word — but it wouldn’t have made sense for the Bears to not build an offense around their second-picked quarterback. 

But as Nagy and Helfrich are installing that offense during OTAs and, next month, veteran minicamp, they’re also learning what Trubisky’s weaknesses are. And the one Helfrich pointed to, in a way, is a positive. 

“Experience,” Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in your progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”

It'd be a concern if the Bears thought Trubisky lacked the necessary talent to be great, or had a lacking work ethic or bad attitude. Experience isn't something he can control, in a way. 

This isn’t anything new for Trubisky. His lack of experience at North Carolina — he only started 13 games there — was the biggest ding to his draft stock a year ago; while he started a dozen games for the Bears in 2017, the offense was simple and conservative, designed to minimize risk for Trubisky (and, to be fair, a sub-optimal group of weapons around him). 

But even if Trubisky started all 16 games in an innovative, aggressive offense last year, he’d still be experiencing plenty of things for the first time. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made this point back in September that still resonates now with regard to Trubisky:

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks,” Roethlisberger said. “In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

So the challenge for Nagy and Helfrich is to build an offense that accentuates Trubisky’s strengths while managing his lack of experience. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in those efforts last year with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively. 

For Helfrich, though, one of Trubisky’s strengths — his leadership qualities — are already helping mitigate his need for more experience. 

“He’s still in the mode of learning and doing things out here,” Helfrich said. “We might have run one play 10 times against 10 different defenses, you know? And so his response to every one of those 10 things is brand new. And so, you see his reaction to some of those is good. Some of those things you want to improve upon and then keep your chest up and lead because we need that.”
 

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

For over two years, Charlie Tilson was starting to look like his own version of "Moonlight" Graham, the player made famous in the movie "Field of Dreams" because he played in one major league game and never got to bat.

The White Sox traded for Tilson just before the trade deadline passed in 2016. Two days later he made his big league debut with the White Sox in Detroit. He got a single in his first at-bat, but left the game with an injury and missed the rest of the season. Tilson also missed all of the 2017 season and his MLB future was starting to come into question.

Back healthy, Tilson started this season in Triple-A Charlotte and hit .248 in 39 games when he got called up to replace Leury Garcia, who was placed on the disabled list. On Thursday, Tilson returned to a big league field for the first time in more than 20 months. He went 0-for-3 in a loss to Baltimore.

Friday marked a return to the site of Tilson's big league debut and the injury that made it such a brief stint. Tilson has now played three big league games, over the course of nearly 21 months, and two of them have been in Detroit.

Tilson went 1-for-4, meaning both his hits are in Comerica Park. The White Sox lost 5-4 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.