Bears

One of the NFL's best runners charged with DUI

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One of the NFL's best runners charged with DUI

From Comcast SportsNet
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was charged Wednesday with driving under the influence in Northern California. Lynch was charged by the Alameda County district attorney with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and driving while having a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher. Lynch has a court date on Aug. 14, which is in the middle of Seahawks training camp. But Lynch's attorney, Ivan Golde, told The Associated Press that he feels the case could get thrown out or reduced because of discrepancies in blood-alcohol tests. Golde's contention is that Lynch was not at the California legal limit of .08 when he was pulled over in Emeryville, Calif., on Saturday and tested at the scene. Golde noted that Lynch's level was higher when he was tested on a calibrated breathalyzer later at the jail. "We think we have a really strong case," Golde said. Teresa Drenick, director of communications for the Alameda County district attorney, could not confirm Golde's claim about Lynch's blood-alcohol content and said she could not discuss the details of the case. Lynch was seen weaving on Interstate 880 in the Oakland, Calif., area on Saturday morning, leading to his arrest for investigation of DUI. An incident report released by the California Highway Patrol described Lynch driving a Ford Econoline van and having two near collisions with two other vehicles driving in adjacent lanes. This is Lynch's first off-field problem since coming over to Seattle from Buffalo during the 2010 season. Lynch's career stalled with the Bills and was highlighted by two off-field brushes with the law, one of which resulted in a three-game suspension. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to a misdemeanor gun charge in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and three years' probation, and was suspended three games by the league for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. That was Lynch's second run-in with the law with the Bills. He was also involved in a hit-and-run accident in Buffalo in May 2008. In the earlier incident, he pleaded guilty to a traffic violation and admitted to driving away after striking a woman with his car near Buffalo's downtown bar district. The league is aware of Lynch's latest legal trouble, but it's unclear whether his past transgressions could get lumped together with his current DUI arrest and lead to yet another suspension. Lynch signed a four-year contract in March that will keep him in a Seattle uniform for the prime of his NFL career. The contract is worth 31 million, including a guaranteed 18 million. Lynch rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Chicago Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. deserves a lot of credit. After starting his career as a seventh-round pick and something of a longshot to ever earn a starting job, he's become an irreplaceable fixture at the most important position along the offensive line.

The four-year, $38 million contract extension he signed last offseason is evidence of that.

Despite his value to the Bears, Leno is still somewhat underrated across league circles. That may be about to change.

Leno was recently named Chicago's best-kept secret.

Leno has consistently improved as a pass protector since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2014 and is now one of the team's top 10 players. If he hit the open market, Leno might be a $60 million player with the way the offensive line market is exploding. Over the next four years, the Bears should save about $20 million on the market price for their starting-caliber left tackle.

Leno has enjoyed steady improvement since his rookie season. His grades from Pro Football Focus reflect that: 53.6 (2014), 56.3 (2015), 71.2 (2016) and 80.4 (2017). 

The Bears' offensive line is poised for a big season in 2018. Leno and Bobby Massie are back as starters at tackle. Rookie second-round pick James Daniels will pair with Kyle Long at guard and third-year pro, Cody Whitehair, will get back to focusing on being the team's starting center.

If Leno's trend of improved play continues, he's a great candidate to go from best-kept secret to league star in 2018.