Bulls

What has Bears running back 'disappointed'

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What has Bears running back 'disappointed'

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, September 8, 2011
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- Matt Forte hoped to have a contract extension. Instead, he's still waiting for his big payday. The Bears running back said Wednesday he's "disappointed" he wasn't able to get an extension from Chicago, and with talks shelved for now, it seems unlikely he'll get one anytime soon. Instead, there's a good chance he'll play out the fourth and final year of his rookie contract after failing to reach an agreement, something he hoped would get done before the opener this week against Atlanta. "Yeah, it's a little surprising," he said. "I'm disappointed that it wasn't. Like I said, coming into the league, you feel like this is supposed to be production-based. And when you produce in the offense, you expect the team or the organization to actually notice that compared to other guys. We just couldn't meet in the middle." He also disputed the notion that both sides had agreed to table the talks, saying he's still open to negotiating. That goes against what general manager Jerry Angelo said earlier in the week, when he told WBBM-AM in Chicago that the decision was mutual, although he wasn't completely slamming the door on the possibility of reaching an agreement by the end of the season. "He said that? I didn't say that, so I guess it wasn't mutual," Forte said. "But that was his decision. I can't really decide if we continue to talk or not. He's the one we talk to. The door's always open on my end." Forte wasn't the only high-profile Bears player seeking a new deal. Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs has said he wants to be traded if the organization won't renegotiate his six-year, 36 million contract, and with three seasons left, management clearly is not budging. Forte's situation is different, though. If they don't agree to a deal before the end of the season, he could test the market. The Bears could also slap him with the franchise-player tag. Fifth in the NFL with 4,731 yards from scrimmage since he entered the league, he had considered holding out at the start of training camp but decided against it. He was reportedly offered a deal that guaranteed about 13 million or 14 million, but he could be looking for something closer to the five-year, 43 million contract with 21 million guaranteed that Carolina gave DeAngelo Williams. "I'm not going to get into the specifics about it," he said. "It's just (that) we couldn't meet in the middle." Forte has "no regrets" about showing up for camp on time rather than holding out. "I handle it like I always do," he said. "I'm a professional. This is the National Football League, and that's what I was going to do -- come in and be professional about it, which is come into camp, work hard every day, get ready for the season. It's unfortunate that the contract situation, I did not get a contract extension, but I have no regrets about what I've done." Quarterback Jay Cutler expects nothing less from Forte than to handle the situation professionally. "He handles himself well," Cutler said. "He knows what it's all about. At the end of the day, he goes out and has a great year, he's going to get probably more money than he was going to get before." Forte is coming off a solid season in which he joined Walter Payton as the only Bears players to finish with at least 1,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving. He ran for 1,069, averaging a career-high 4.5 per carry, and tied for the team lead with 51 receptions for 547 yards, but he plays a high-risk position. There's a reason running backs generally have shorter shelf lives, and an injury this season would make any team think twice about giving Forte a big deal. So it's easy to see why he doesn't want to wait even if he said this about the risk of going down: "You can't go out there worried about that." It's also not hard to see why the Bears were at least willing to listen, given the way he has performed for them and that his price could go up if he has another good year. Angelo said early in training camp that they were "motivated," that it was their "intent" to get an extension for Forte, but he didn't set any timetables or make any guarantees. "I don't think he lied," Forte said. "We tried to get a deal done. It was just, maybe they have a different view of the type of player I am than the type of player that they think I am."

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

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USA TODAY

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

In a five-game span Wendell Carter Jr. saw preseason action against Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Myles Turner. The 19-year-old rookie had his share of expected ups and downs but performed well enough that Fred Hoiberg officially announced him a starter for the team’s season opener tomorrow night.

His reward for all that hard work? A matchup against All-Pro center Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’ll be an eye-opening experience for the Duke product, who just a year ago was readying himself for his first season of college basketball and a season-opening matchup against Elon. It’s safe to assume Embiid will pose a few more problems than did Phoenix center Tyler Seibring.

“Joel Embiid was one of my role models growing up,” Embiid said before practice Wednesday. “He was someone I always wanted to pattern my game after. Just to go up against him is a remarkable feeling. He’s a very physical player. He’s a very talented player. I’m going to be able to stack up and see what all I need to work on to last in this league.”

While it’s no easy task against a talent like Embiid, who was named All-NBA Second Team last season, Carter’s most important job will be staying out of foul trouble. Carter piggy-backed an impressive Summer League with a preseason that included averages of 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. But those numbers also included 7.7 fouls per 48 minutes. He racked up 17 fouls in five games, and had at least three in each.

Embiid only went to the line five times in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to the Celtics, but that was primarily against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Al Horford. Embiid won’t face as much resistance against Carter, putting the pressure on the rookie to stay on the floor.

“He’s going to have to navigate that without using his hands,” Fred Hoiberg said. “We have to be all five aware. It’s just not a one-man problem with Embiid. We have to have great awareness of him and try and mix up coverages and hopefully make him take tough shots, knowing that he’s going to hit some of those. You just can’t get deflated when he does.’’

The decision was a mere formality – Bobby Portis will start at power forward – after the frontcourt combination played considerably better in the Bulls’ final two preseason games. Though Jabari Parker was initially slotted in at power forward following Lauri Markkanen’s elbow sprain, Portis’ impressive preseason forced Hoiberg’s hand. Portis averaged 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field in just 22.4 minutes.

“It’s all about combinations out there and we felt like Bobby gave us a great start with the way he was playing,” Hoiberg said. “And then we kind of changed things up with that second unit and put the ball in Jabari’s hands, so it was more that in trying to get guys out there with the right combinations.”

Lopez may have an expanded role if Carter gets into foul trouble early, while Parker will be the facilitator on a second unit that doesn’t have much in the way of a point guard. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the frontcourt will play out once Markkanen returns in roughly a month; if Portis and Carter continue playing well, Hoiberg could opt to keep them together on the second unit and put Lopez back in the starting lineup.

But for at least Opening Night – the Bulls also get Andre Drummond and the Pistons on Saturday – it’ll be the seventh overall pick getting his NBA feet wet with a matchup against arguably the best center in basketball. But’s it a role he’s earned, and on a Bulls defense looking for any sort of improvement, Carter is the player who can anchor it.

“His defense is always going to be important for us. He’s the guy that’s the anchor in that starting unit at the rim,” Hoiberg said, “and he’s done a really solid job of making perimeter guys taking contested shots when he gets switched off, or staying vertical at the rim and trying to make a big finish over the top of him, so yeah, again it’s a great challenge, great opportunity for Wendell.”

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

The Bears have seemingly dodged a bullet, for now. 

Following Tuesday's announcement that Khalil Mack would undergo further tests on the right ankle injury he sustained during Sunday's loss, Bears head coach had more optimistic news on Wednesday:

It could obviously get a lot worse than a day-to-day diagnosis, though not practicing on Wednesday might raise some eyebrows. 

It sounds like Mack is expected to be a go for Sunday's matchup with the Patriots, though as the Bears saw with the Dolphins' QB situation last week, things can change in a heartbeat.