Bears

Rose likely out for Bulls vs. Orlando

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Rose likely out for Bulls vs. Orlando

ORLANDO -- Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would only confirm that of his players, shooting guard Rip Hamilton would miss Monday evenings game against the Magic. Derrick Rose, however, hinted that the teams entire starting backcourt would be out.

"Im feeling good. My groin is getting better. Just trying to stay positive, keep a clean head mentally. Im thinking God does everything for a reason. Otherwise, Im feeling good. My health is OK. Im not sick or anything. Its just my groin, Rose said prior to the teams morning shootaround at the Amway Center, in a bit of an understatement. I havent been able to run like that. I havent ran in a couple of days. Just making sure that my leg is OK and making sure that the pain goes away very quickly.

To recap: Rose suffered a strained right groin in last Mondays home victory against the Knicks, after which he criticized the game officiating, resulting in a 25,000 fine from the NBA. Since then, Rose has mostly been seen, but not heard, while the Bulls have been taking a cautious approach to his recovery.

Well see, Thibodeau said, giving his customary answer when asked about Roses status. Before Roses return, Thibodeau would need to see improvement. Hes moving along, but we just have to be patient. I want to make sure hes completely healthy before we bring him back.

Could be a few days, who knows? Each day you just want him to make progress, continued the coach, who officially termed Roses status as day-to-day. When hes healthy, hes healthy. Were not going to rush him back and we want him to be completely healthy. I think thats important.

Added Rose, who has lifted weights, but hasnt run or shot the ball during his current three-game absence: I really dont know. They havent gave me a time. They say with an injury like this, you really dont know how long its going to take. I thought I was going to be back soon, but missing big games that I would hate to miss, like the one tonight. But Ive got to worry about my health.

You dont want this to linger, where I cant move right now. Every day, its definitely getting better, continued the reigning league MVP, who admitted his groin remained tight as of Monday morning. Its definitely been frustrating. This is the most Ive been injured, ever, in my life. The biggest thing is just staying strong mentally missing these games. Were playing good right now. Definitely hurting me, but keeping a positive attitude.

As Rose has been keeping a low profile since the Knicks game, he took the time to explain how his injury occurred.

In the New York game, when I went to the hole, I took off kind of wrong and Knicks guard Jeremy Lin beat my shot. I thought I was going to take off, but I couldnt get up that high. I just felt a pull and I thought that it was a charley horse or something, explained Rose, who has missed 14 games this season with a variety of ailments. Whenever I went down, I was trying to stretch out, but it was pain there. Usually when you have a charley horse, its just tight. I felt a little bit of pain, but I wanted to play through it. Ended up playing through it and I think I made it worse.

It had to be adrenaline. After the game, I remember walking back into the locker room. I told the trainers immediately that I wasnt feeling right, that my leg was really messed up. They looked at it and saw what it was, and I had to go get treatment and everything the next day, he continued. It was a strain, not a tear. Thank God for that.

Rose also discussed his fine, handed down by the league office last week. The 23-year-old accepted his fate, but stands by his reasoning, though he feels his choir-boy image may have contributed to the punishment being levied.

They were facts. I thought they were facts, but losing 25K definitely hurts. I dont care who you are, it hurts. I was just frustrated at the time and I couldnt hold myself back from saying what I said, he said. Im talking to the officials a little bit more. Its not going to stop the way that I play. Im going to continue to attack, play hard and hopefully I get the calls.

They still look at me as a little kid or -- I dont know how you would say it -- but a demigod or something? I cant say anything, so for me to say something, I had to be thinking it. Its been four years. I was just frustrated at the time. They said theyll look at it and just try to move on from there.

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

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USA TODAY

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

Bill Belichick had plenty of good things to say about Matt Nagy and the 2018 Bears during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Some of the highlights:

 

On the Bears’ season as a whole:

 

“The Bears have lost two games, one on a game when they were in control of the game and another one they lost in overtime. This really looks like a 5-0 team to me, if you change one or two plays. You can say that about a lot of teams, but that’s the league we’re in.”

 

On Mitch Trubisky:

 

“I think he’s done a good job of getting ball to the players that are open or in space and letting them be playmakers. He has a lot of them. That’s the quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the playmakers and let them go. I think he’s done a good job of that. He’s a tough kid, which I respect. That’s what we would ask our quarterbacks to do, to make plays to help our team win, to get the ball to the players that are open and in space. It’s not about stats. It’s about doing what you need to do to win.”

 

On Tarik Cohen’s usage:

 

“He plays about a little bit less than 50 percent of the time and he’s in a lot of different places, he’s hard to find. He’s a dynamic player that can run, catch, really threaten every yard of the field from sideline to sideline, up the middle, deep. You can throw it to him, you can hand it to him and he’s elusive with the ball and he’s elusive to be able to get open so the quarterback can get him the ball. Those are great skills to have. Any one of those is good and he’s got several of them.

 

“He’s very hard to tackle. But they do a great job mixing him, not just putting him in the game but who he’s in the game with, what the combinations are and then where they locate him and so forth. There are a lot of multiples. It’s hard. Coach Nagy does a good job with that and he’s a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.”

 

On Trubisky’s 54-yard bomb to Taylor Gabriel on Sunday:

 

“That’s about as good a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year. The execution on that was like 99 out of 100. It was a great, great throw, great route, great catch. There was like a few inches to get the ball in there 50 yards downfield and that’s where it was.”

 

On Akiem Hicks’ impact, who played for the Patriots in 2015:

 

“He’s hard to block. It doesn’t make any difference what the play is, you can run to him and he’s hard to block. You can run away from him, and he makes tackles for loss on the back side. He’s quick and can get around those blocks when there’s more space back there because everybody is going to the front side. He can power rush. He can rush the edges with his quickness. He’s a very, very disruptive player. He’s hard to block on everything.

 

“I appreciate all of the plays he makes. He makes plays on all three downs, against all types of plays, whether it’s reading screen passes or power rushing the pocket to help the ends, to help (Leonard) Floyd and Mack and (Aaron) Lynch rush on the edge. He’s a powerful, disruptive guy. (Eddie) Goldman has done a good job of that. (Bilal) Nichols has done a good job of that too. They have some really powerful guys inside that are hard to block, and they change the line of scrimmage in the running game and the passing game. It really creates a problem, frees up the linebackers in the running game and helps the ends because the quarterback can’t step up in the pocket in the passing game.”

 

On Matt Nagy:

 

“Obviously he's done a great job, as has Ryan with building the team. They have a lot of good players. They have a really experienced staff and they do a great job in all three areas of the game. They're good in the kicking game, they're good on defense they're good on offense. They have highly-skilled players in all three areas.

 

“It's a well-balanced football team that does a lot of things well. Run the ball. Stop the run. Throw the ball. Rush the passer. Intercept passes. Return kicks. Cover kicks. Cover punts. They're at the top of the league in all those categories. Turnovers. Points off turnovers. It doesn't really matter what area you want to talk about, they're pretty good at all of them. That's why they're a good football team.

 

“Coach Nagy and his staff certainly deserve a lot of credit. It's not a one-man band. They're all doing a good job. It's a good football team. I'm sure there will be a lot of energy in the stadium this week. It will be a great test for us to go into Chicago and be competitive against them.”

 

While listening to Belichick rave about the Bears, this missive from former Patriots general manager Michael Lombardi stands out:

 

“Whenever Belichick tells the media on Mondays or Tuesdays that he has already moved on to the next game, trust me, he’s not lying. I worked with Bill for five years in Cleveland, and then during the 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England. Belichick treats every game like a Super Bowl; no detail is too small, no possible scenario or situation goes overlooked. I have heard Belichick break down a bumbling Jaguars team as if it was the reigning two-time Super Bowl winner and treat Blake Bortles like he’s the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. Belichick does it with tape to back up his claims, only showing his team the opponent’s greatest strengths. (With Bortles, I swear, he must have used George Lucas to doctor the video.) No Patriots opponent is underestimated or taken lightly — EVER.”

 

One of the myriad things that make Belichick the best coach in the NFL — and maybe the best coach in NFL history — is how he never takes an opponent lightly, and then how he’s so successful at scheming against what an opponent does best.

 

The Bears are undoubtedly better in 2018 than they were in the John Fox era, or when these two teams last met in 2014 (when New England waxed a moribund Marc Trestman side, 51-23). And a lot of Belichick’s points are valid – that throw Trubisky made to Gabriel was outstanding, for example.

 

But Belichick talks this way about every team he faces. And that, again, is part of what makes him the best at what he does.

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”