Bears

The Starting Five: Bulls v. Hawks

The Starting Five: Bulls v. Hawks

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 4:10 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Kirk Hinrich, who was dealt from the Wizards to the Hawks at the trade deadline, talked about being back on a playoff team. Its a great feeling. It was getting to be a very long year there in D.C. The organization was great to me, everybody was great, but to be coming to a talented team like this in the middle of the playoff hunt is very exciting," Hinrich, who told reporters he will play Wednesday, despite nursing a calf injury, said after Hawks shootaround. Im definitely excited to get a chance to play with these guys. After going against them all those years, I know the talent that they have and how high of a ceiling they have as a group, so Im just excited to be a part of it and help in any way that I can. Hinrich said he wasnt expecting to be traded, but the fiery competitors reaction was understandably positive. The day that it happened, I was hearing all the rumors, so that was basically when I opened my mind up to the possibility that it might happen, said Hinrich. I was very excitedit was kind of like having a new life.

2. Derrick Rose discussed the matchup with Hinrich, his former backcourt partner. It should be fun. It should feel like any other game, like when he was in Washington. He was playing the same way, playing aggressive, playing the same way he normally plays and thats wellI know that I will be better after this game. Every game you play against a good defender like that, youre going to get better because youve got to get prepared for it and I just cant wait. Hes somebody that when I came into the league, he took me under his wing, said Rose. Its going to be hard. Were playing against a good team. Earlier when we played him, his team wasnt as good as this team, so tonight, I think the atmospheres going to be crazy and both teams are going to be out there playing very hard. Hinrich spoke highly of Roses progress and the challenge of defending him. Its a nightmare. With his strength and athleticism, it definitely has to be a team effort, for sure, said Hinrich. Watching him, you still shake your head at times. Its unbelievable, the way that hes playing. As for playing his former team in his first home game with his new team, Hinrich was upbeat. Im excited. Theyve got a very good team and theyre playing really well right now, so it should be a good challenge for us. Its always a big game when you have a long road trip and you come back home, so were definitely up for the challenge tonight, said Hinrich. Its a little different, I guess, just because I have really good relationships with all those guys, but other than that, its another game and Im still trying to get acclimated here, so Im just trying to focus on that.

3. Luol Deng told CSNChicago.com that he believes that Hawks will gradually improve with Hinrich running the show. I think theyll improve a lot, said Deng. I dont know how quick they will improve, but I think Kirkespecially defensivelywill bring them more energy. While some observers focus on the Bulls flying under the radar, the steady Hawks have been a consistent playoff team in the East for the past few seasons, although last springs second-round flameout at the hands of Orlando dampened preseason expectations, given they returned virtually the same team. People get tired of seeing the same thing. I think thats what it is. I think we just had a tough season last year, so all of a sudden, we turned it around and were the team. The Hawks have been doing it for a few years now, so people are kind of like, Well, in the playoffs, theyre going to do the same thing, so they dont give them the props, Deng opined to CSNChicago.com. Theyre making changes and theyre a different team. As for us, if we keep doing the same thing for a few years, its going to be the same thing. People just get tired and always want something new.

4. Joakim Noah discussed facing his former teammate Hinrich. Kirk obviously knows a lot of our personnel very well, said Noah. Kirky is also a very competitive player, somebody who will always come ready to play against the Chicago Bulls, I think. Noah also spoke about matching up with former college teammate and Hawks center Al Horford, with whom he won two collegiate national championships at the University of Florida. I think this is an important game tonight and just being able to go up against him is exciting. Hes a very competitive guy, Im a competitive guy and its an important game for us. Were trying to grab the No. 1 seed and we have a lot of work to do. We havent played them yet and its going to be exciting to play the Hawks tonight, said Noah. I think Als a big piece of the Hawks are trying to do and just being here for the last couple days, Ive realized how much love he gets out here. Its very, very well deserved. Hes somebody whos very professional and comes with that workmanlike attitude every day. Hes somebody who wants to win very badly. Horford shared his own opinion on the matchup. It was a little weird, the first few years facing him in the NBA. We havent faced them at all this year. Its different. You play with a guy for such a long time. We have to get prepared for this game like any other game, said Horford, who added there was no question Noah would make it to the next level when they were at Florida. Its hard when you play with a guy on your same side and you know each others game, so you know its going to be different, but we know weve got to go out there and do our jobs. Horford believes Hinrich will be a positive addition to the Hawks. I think he helps a lot, said Horford. He brings toughness and hes a leader out there. Thats one of the things that we need.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”