Bears

Randy Moss is back in the NFL

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Randy Moss is back in the NFL

From Comcast SportsNet
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Randy Moss is ready to show the world he can still be that dynamic deep threat who once dominated NFL defensive backs. Even after a year away. Even at age 35. Even with a reputation he says isn't all it's made out to be. Moss is getting a another chance in the NFL, signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday only hours after he worked out for the team and with former NFL quarterback and current coach Jim Harbaugh. "I'm not a free agent. I'm a guy straight off the couch, straight off the street," Moss said. "One thing I want the sports world to understand is the love and passion I have for football." Moss will fill a big void for the reigning NFC West champions in Harbaugh's version of the West Coast offense. While he didn't go as far as to promise not to pout when times are tough, he did say all the right things, and that he plans to be a positive presence in a locker room known for its blue-collar, unselfish approach. Moss has no interest in reflecting on his past, either. This is a fresh start. "The thing about me being here is they've done their research on me. When it comes to the worldwide sports media, I've gotten a bad rap," Moss said. "They've done their homework on me or they wouldn't have brought me in here. ... (The questions were) more of me not being a team player and things like that. I don't want to get into that." Moss got a good vibe about the organization from the moment he was picked up at the airport Sunday night, calling it a "no-brainer" to sign. He said the organization quickly decided to "pull the trigger" -- and it's a low-risk, high-reward move for San Francisco. "Harbaugh is a young, enthusiastic coach. I love enthusiasm," Moss said. "A lot of things stood out to me." It seems Harbaugh's throws were on target, too. "Jim Harbaugh makes 49ers veteran emergency board: Best coach's workout in NFL history (especially while wearing khakis & a sweatshirt)," Niners CEO Jed York tweeted. Moss, who worked out last Tuesday with the New Orleans Saints, spent a year out of football and last played for New England, Minnesota and Tennessee during a rocky 2010 season. He said he enjoyed playing catch with Harbaugh, a 15-year NFL pro in his day. "Yes, he can still bring it at his old age. I don't know, he's probably sitting there with an ice pack or something on his shoulder right now," Moss said. "He can still wing it." The 49ers can sure use him. San Francisco's receivers managed just one catch for 3 yards in a 20-17 loss in the NFC championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Candlestick Park on Jan. 22. York told reporters earlier Monday at team headquarters his team needed "someone to stretch the field." The athletic, 6-foot-4 Moss fits the bill. Moss said he initially retired for "personal reasons outside of football" and considered making a comeback late in the 2011 season before ultimately deciding to give his body more time to train. He suffered a shoulder injury during 2010 with New England. Moss always believed he could still perform. "It was a decision to get back in the game because I still love the game and think I can play at a high level," he said. "It was obvious they liked what they saw. I don't want to let them down." The 49ers also are working to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, and have reportedly made him a three-year offer. Smith's representatives haven't returned multiple messages seeking an update on the status of negotiations. "Alex is trying to figure out what he wants to do," York said. "There have been good conversations back and forth." If Moss proves himself during workouts this spring and training camp, he could be a viable deep threat that San Francisco hoped it had in Braylon Edwards last season. The 49ers cut ties with Edwards in December. Joshua Morgan broke a bone in his lower leg Oct. 9 against Tampa Bay and later had surgery to have screws inserted and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Morgan is expected to generate his share of interest in free agency, and receiver and return man Ted Ginn Jr. might not return. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco's 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, had 72 receptions for 874 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. San Francisco went 13-3 and ended an eight-year drought without a playoff berth or winning record. Moss' best season came for the Patriots in 2007, when he caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and a single-season record 23 touchdowns in helping New England to a 16-0 regular-season record. He has 954 catches for 14,858 yards and 153 TDs in his 13-year career, which included a stint in the Bay Area with the Oakland Raiders in 2005 and 06 where he produced little on the field. Running back Anthony Dixon watched Moss' workout Monday, and came away giddy. "Randy Moss done linked up with us. Oh it's about to get scary like the end of October!" Dixon tweeted. Moss has had more than 1,000 yards receiving in a season 10 times, second only to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who accomplished the feat 14 times. Moss hasn't lost his swagger. "I accept the challenge and I'm ready to bring the fans out of their seats," he said, noting he considers this a chance to give back to the game. "I like what I can do for the NFL. I don't like what the NFL can do for me." ESPN first reported the move a day before the start of the free agency period.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.