The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation.
David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall.
The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday).
“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”
It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense.
The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.
As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”
The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard.
All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs.
Chicago, IL (July 23, 2019) – NBC Sports Chicago – the ONLY HOME for Blackhawks hockey – is ready to start up the 2019-20 NHL season in a big way with exclusive, LIVE Opening Ceremonies coverage and expanded weekend-long, multi-platform reports from the sold out 12th annual Blackhawks Convention, which will be held downtown this weekend (July 26-28) at the Hilton Chicago.
On Friday, July 26 beginning at 5:00 PM CT, NBC Sports Chicago - featuring host Pat Boyle (@BoyleNBCS), along with NBCSportsChicago.com Blackhawks digital reporter/producer Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) - will provide viewers with every thrill-packed moment of the convention’s Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of Blackhawks players/coaches/alumni/front office executives, the singing of the National Anthem, exciting video montages, plus – special live interviews with Blackhawks guests prior to the start of the ceremony. (NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago will re-air the Convention’s Opening Ceremonies later in the evening at 11:00 PM.)
At 6:00 PM on Friday night, Blackhawks Convention coverage continues on NBC Sports Chicago with a live remote edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado featuring host David Kaplan (@thekapman), along with a panel of Blackhawks/NHL experts and a special Blackhawks guest interview. In addition, tomorrow night (Wed, July 24) at 6:00 PM, fans can look forward to a special Blackhawks player appearance on SportsTalk Live to discuss the upcoming Convention, along previewing the upcoming 2019-20 Blackhawks campaign. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Live stream of the Opening Ceremonies coverage and SportsTalk Live will also be available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app; fans located anywhere in the U.S. can download MyTeams for free on iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.)
Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive Blackhawks Convention coverage on NBCSportsChicago.com’s BlackhawksTalk section (NBCSportsChicago.com/Blackhawks) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Boyle, Roumeliotis, along the NBC Sports Chicago’s team of behind-the-scenes Blackhawks experts (@NBCSBlackhawks).
From a social media standpoint, NBC Sports Chicago will also deliver a number of additional on-site Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) interviews and special segments throughout the weekend, along with Blackhawks Convention “Sights & Sounds” highlights from ‘NBCSChicago’ featuring photos/quick video offerings from Instagram and Instagram Stories. Plus, fans can also get interactive with NBC Sports Chicago’s “Blackhawks Convention” coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #AuthenticFan.
Also, on Sunday, July 28 at 10:00 AM, fans can also look forward to a live “Blackhawks Convention” edition of the popular “Blackhawks Talk” PODCAST presented by Your Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers featuring hosts Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis, along with special guest appearances by Blackhawks forwards Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher. The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
In addition, Blackhawks Convention attendees are urged to stop by NBC Sports Chicago’s #AuthenticFan booth for their chance to win a number of special #AuthenticFan Blackhawks-themed giveaways including beach balls, keychains, picnic blankets, tote bags and much more (while supplies last). #AuthenticFan cheer cards will also be given out to fans in advance of the Opening Ceremonies. Attendees are also urged to utilize the social media hashtag #AuthenticFan throughout the weekend as a number of lucky fans will be “authentically surprised” with special Blackhawks giveaways and experiences. NBC Sports Chicago’s dedicated Blackhawks Twitter handle (@NBCSBlackhawks) will also provide fans with up-to-the-minute NBC Sports Chicago #AuthenticFan booth activities throughout the weekend.
NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears postgame coverage, local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.
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