Bears

Tebow suffered injuries to ribs, chest, lungs

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Tebow suffered injuries to ribs, chest, lungs

From Comcast SportsNet

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Tim Tebow needs more R&R than anyone thought. The Broncos quarterback played through rib, lung and chest injuries he sustained in Denver's 45-10 loss at New England in the AFC divisional playoffs last weekend. He won't need surgery, is expected to make a full recovery with some down time and his offseason training program shouldn't be affected in any way. ESPN first reported Wednesday that Tebow got hurt on a third-quarter tackle, then had trouble sleeping because of the pain and underwent an MRI on his chest Monday. Team spokesman Patrick Smyth said that while he couldn't confirm the exact extent or nature of the injuries due to team policy, he acknowledged that Tebow finished the game in considerable pain. Backup Brady Quinn quickly got ready to go into the game after Tebow was hit by Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich, but Tebow stayed in and finished up. "It's just the physicality of playing football. Sometimes you get hit and it can hurt a little bit. But, I wanted to play a lot of the game," Tebow said after the game. The outcome had long been decided by the time Tebow got hurt. "I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight and it doesn't change who you are, how you play, how you go out there, you should be the same at all times," Tebow said. "That's what I wanted to show, it didn't matter if it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that's all I have to give." Tebow wasn't in the locker room during a one-hour media window on Sunday, emerging with a smile from the trainer's room as reporters were filing out as the players streamed to their end-of-season meeting with coach John Fox. On Monday, Broncos boss John Elway declared Tebow the incumbent starting QB entering training camp next summer and reiterated his plan to work with him during the offseason to help polish his passing game. Tebow went 8-5 as the Broncos starter after supplanting Kyle Orton following a 1-4 start. He engineered a six-game winning streak that included four straight fourth-quarter comebacks that sent Tebowmania into full pitch. He faded at the end, losing his last three starts, including one to the Kansas City Chiefs and Orton, but the Broncos backed into the playoffs nevertheless at 8-8 as champions of the middling AFC West. Tebow had the best game of his pro career in the wild card round, when he averaged 31.6 yards per completion, the best in the NFL in 40 years, and threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime for a 29-23 win over heavily favored Pittsburgh and the league's No. 1 defense. That was Denver's first playoff game in six seasons. While the Broncos brass was delighted at returning to the postseason party a year after a franchise-worst 4-12 season, they said the 35-point loss to the Patriots showed just how far they need to go to return to the AFC's upper echelon. Tebow, who didn't get the first-team snaps during training camp or for the first month of the season, realizes he has a long way to go himself. "Just work and improve, fundamentals, understanding defenses, footwork, everything," he said. Tebow might also have to get accustomed to a new offensive coordinator in 2012. Mike McCoy has interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Miami and Oakland. McCoy is a hot commodity after retooling Denver's offense midstream to capitalize on Tebow's unique skill set. He implemented the read-option that turned the NFL on its ear at midseason and resulted in the Broncos soaring to the top of the league in rushing. Tebow ran for 660 yards, most by a quarterback in team history, in the regular season and another 63 in the playoffs, leading to concerns among some that he was exposing himself to injury. But Tebow noted that he actually takes glancing blows, if any, from smaller defenders while on the run, making him less vulnerable than when he stays in the pocket and might get sandwiched by 300-pound linemen. He took every snap for Denver after replacing Orton at halftime Oct. 9 against San Diego. Tebow ran for six TDs in the regular season and one in the playoffs while averaging 5.3 yards a carry. But he completed just 46.5 percent of his passes last season and just 40.4 percent in the playoffs. "We're always looking for balance," Elway said. "Balance is what we won Super Bowls with." Elway and Tebow are eager to see what a difference an offseason can make -- they didn't have that luxury last year during the NFL lockout. "I feel like I've improved a lot in a lot of different forms of my game," Tebow said. "And I continue to improve and continue to get a lot better, and I believe I can, and I'm looking forward to putting in work."

After loss to Patriots, Bears' defense searching for answers — but not confidence

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USA Today

After loss to Patriots, Bears' defense searching for answers — but not confidence

A year ago, had the Bears come within one yard of tying the New England Patriots in a game in which they allowed two special teams touchdowns, the vibe in the Solider Field locker room might’ve been different. Sort of like, hey, that was pretty good that we were able to hang with one of the league's best teams and nearly tie and/or beat them despite our own mistakes. 

The operative term, then, after Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Patriots may be confident frustration. The Bears know they’re a good team, better than they’ve had in recent memory. And that makes losing a game this team felt it was close to winning that much more frustrating. 

“We still had confidence last year that we could go in and win games (last year), but I would say this year we know what type of team we have,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “We know we got a quarterback that’s developing and throwing the ball down the field really well. We know we have a great wide receiver corps. We know we have rushers that can get to the quarterback. We have a really good team and we’re going to have to figure out how to capitalize on that big play momentum and finish games out.”

Perhaps this is a picture of a talented team still trying to figure out how to win. The Bears’ defense entered Sunday allowing an average of 8.8 yards per play in the fourth quarter and allowed 6.5 yards per play in the final 15 minutes Sunday, including a critical 96-yard touchdown drive. 

And while Mitch Trubisky’s Hail Mary to Kevin White came up one yard short, that the Bears were even in that situation to begin with was the problem. New England was able to chew up 3:49 off the clock before punting the ball back to the Bears' offense with 24 seconds remaining. Get a stop earlier and the Bears might not have to rely on a nearly-converted heave with time expiring to tie the game. 

“In games like this, your room for error is slim in all phases,” cornerback Kyle Fuller said. “No matter what we did (well), there are still a couple things that we have to clean up against a team like that."

The Bears’ defense is remaining confident despite scant pressure on Brady — he was sacked once (by Roquan Smith) and hit only three times (by Smith, Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris). Khalil Mack barely showed up on the stat sheet, registering only one tackle while being dropped into coverage far more frequently than he made an impact as a pass rusher. How much he was affected by his injured ankle, or how much defensive coordinator Vic Fangio felt he had to gameplan around it, is unclear (Mack did not speak to the media following the game). 

Leonard Floyd, too, was picked on by Brady, who frequently got the ball out quick in a successful effort to mitigate a pass rush that’s struggled to make an impact after recording 18 sacks in four games to begin the year. But the confidence is still there, despite seemingly few reasons for optimism since the second half in Miami kicked off last weekend. 

“We definitely don’t feel like (we’ve hit a wall),” safety Eddie Jackson said. “That’s probably the greatest quarterback in the NFL right now. We just gotta come in, we left some things on the field, we left some plays on the field. Like I said, it’s tough trying to put this one behind you but, you know, it’s a long season. We’re not getting down on ourselves, we’re still going to play with confidence. That confidence is still there.” 

Games against two of the league’s worst offenses in the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, then, should help the Bears’ defensive production match its confidence, if that line of thinking is to be believed. But as the first four games of the season get farther and farther in the rearview mirror, this is a defense that has to prove itself again in the coming weeks. 

“(The Patriots) came to play all together, and not saying we didn’t but we didn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays,” outside linebacker Aaron Lynch said. “It’s on us. Defense, we got it though. We’re not worried about it. It’s another game we lost. We got how many other games, we got 10 games left? Yeah. I’m not worried about it. I don’t think anybody is.”

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

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USA TODAY

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

Outspoken Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban conceded his team was playing for draft lottery position last season, but insisted it would be a one year only strategy.

Dallas finished tied for the league’s third worst record, but fell to fifth after the lottery.

So, Cuban and the Mavs’ front office decided to make a bold move on draft night, trading their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta to move up two spots for a chance to select international sensation Luka Doncic.

Early in the season, Doncic has more than lived up to the hype, showing the creativity and flair that made him such a fan favorite on the European professional circuit. Through the Mavs’ first two games, Doncic is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists while giving Rick Carlisle’s team a much-needed boost in transition.

Doncic and second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. will give opposing teams nightmares in the open court all season long. They led the offensive onslaught in the Mavs’ 140-136 win over Dallas Saturday night, combining for 45 points. Doncic finished with 26 points, while Smith scored 10 of his 19 in the 4th quarter, including a tie-breaking three-point play with six seconds left.

Veteran swing-man Wesley Matthews added 19 against the Timberwolves, and his 3 point shooting helps the Mavs maintain floor balance in half-court sets.

The Mavs also strengthened their front court in the off-season, signing veteran center DeAndre Jordan in free agency. Dallas was overmatched in the middle last season, with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell giving up size in the post, but Jordan will provide rim protection and an alley-oop threat when Doncic, Smith Jr. or veteran point guard J.J. Barea drive to the basket. Jordan had a big game in the home opening win over Minnesota, scoring 22 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.

Nowitzki, starting small forward Harrison Barnes and backup guard Devin Harris all missed Saturday’s game because of injuries, but Barnes and Harris are considered game-time decisions against the Bulls.

Here’s what the Bulls will need to do to get their first victory of the season Monday night.

1. GET BACK ON DEFENSE! Doncic and Smith Jr. are deadly in the open court, capable of making spectacular plays to bring the home crowd to life. The Bulls’ players have to sprint back on defense after missed shots to cut off transition opportunities, or it’s going to be a long night. The Mavs are averaging 128 points through the first two games.

2. CLOSE OUT ON 3-POINT SHOOTERS This will be a familiar theme in my keys until the Bulls start doing a better job of matching up in transition and closing out on three point threats. Detroit’s win at the United Center on Saturday came down to the Pistons’ 18-40 shooting from three-point range, and Dallas has even more players capable of doing damage from beyond the arc.

3. LET DUNN DO IT Getting Kris Dunn back from paternity leave should make a big difference on both ends of the court. Dunn has the athleticism and physicality to match up with either Doncic or Smith Jr., and his defensive skills will be critical in keeping the Mavs from turning this game into a track meet.

On the offensive end, Dunn need to be patient and get the ball into the hands of the Bulls’ top scorers, Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. Even though Fred Hoiberg wants his team to play at a fast pace, they’ll need to pick their spots on when to run against the explosive Mavs.

As always, turn to NBC Sports Chicago for the very best pre and post-game coverage. Kendall Gill and Will Perdue join me for Bulls Pregame Live at 7 p.m/, and we’ll have expanded post-game analysis when the action goes final in Dallas. You can also stream the shows live on the brand new My Teams by NBC Sports app.