Bears

Word on the Street: What if Bulls didn't get No. 1 Pick?

Word on the Street: What if Bulls didn't get No. 1 Pick?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
CSNChicago.com
What if the Bulls didn't get the No. 1 pick in 2008?

That is precisely what Darrell Horwitz discusses in his Bleacher Report article, "Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls: What If They Didn't Get the No. 1 Pick?" The odds of getting the No. 1 pick in the lottery was a mere 1.9 percent chance. Luck was smiling on the Bulls.

So what would have happened if the Bulls weren't lucky that night? Would the Bulls even be in the playoff hunt? Would Carlos Boozer have come to Chicago without Rose? Would Tom Thibodeau have chosen the Bulls? Would Kirk Hinrich still be the point guard?

For a team that has the promise of future championships awaiting them, it is certainly interesting to reflect on what might have been. (Bleacher Report)

Ochocinco coming to a soccer field near you?

Chad Ochocinco is getting a backup plan together to prepare for a potention NFL-less fall. According to USA Today, Ochocinco is set for a four-day tryout with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer starting Tuesday. The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver began playing soccer at age 4 and is friends with soccer stars Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

"Due to the NFL lockout, I'm excited to be able to follow my childhood dream of playing for a Major League Soccer team," Ochocinco said.

Sportinng Kansas City said that it would determine whether to extend the trial period after the tryout. (USA Today)

Campbell, Bolland still out with injuries

Brian Campbell and Dave Bolland will not return to the lineup for the Blackhawks' game against Dallas on Thursday. Campbell suffered an injury to his left leg against the Florida Panthers last week and did not practice Wednesday. He could meet the team in Glendale for their game against the Coyotes on Sunday.

Bolland will sit out for the next two games and won't make the trip to DallasPhoenix because of his concussion. His status has not improved since Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina elbowed him in the head last week. (CSNChicago.com)
Bulls approaching 50 wins

The 2010-2011 Chicago Bulls are on track to reach 50 wins this season. Surmounting that number would mark the first time the team has reached 50 wins since Michael Jordan roamed the court during the 1997-98 season.

Ryan Christopher DeVault believes that this could be the Bulls' chance to finally break that 50-win plateau. He also says confidently that the most successful seasons of the Bulls have all ended in NBA titles. (Yahoo Sports)

Bears scout at Illinois' pro day

Representatives from 30 of the league's 32 teams were on hand at the Illini pro day, including New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and six representatives from the Bears. Bears running backs coach Tim Spencer helped put Mikel Leshoure through drills after a long chat while the linemen were working out.

Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli put Corey Liuget and defensive end Clay Nurse through drills. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Ex-Fire Bocanegra makes U.S. exhibition roster

Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne, France) is one of twenty players that play abroad selected to a 24-man roster as the United States host exhibition games against Argentina and Paraguay. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles) and Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England) head the roster selected by U.S. coach Bob Bradley. Bradley did not select any players from the Chicago Fire.

Players will train in Cary, N.C. and play Argentina on March 26 in New Jersey. Three days later the team will take on Paraguay in Nashville, Tenn. (Tribune News Services)

John Franklin III may be a longshot to make the Bears, but the former ‘Last Chance U’ star isn’t giving up on his dream

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USA Today Sports Images

John Franklin III may be a longshot to make the Bears, but the former ‘Last Chance U’ star isn’t giving up on his dream

Down in Bourbonnais, one of the handful of players who stuck around the longest to sign autographs for fans after training camp practices was the starting quarterback and hopeful savior of a franchise that’s been mired at the bottom of its division for years. 

Another was a fourth-string cornerback who had never played that position before May and has an extremely difficult path to make it in the NFL. 

“Most of the time I’m out here with Mitch (Trubisky), like the last person,” John Franklin III said. “I’d rather have people know me than people not know me. So that’s a good thing.”

You might know Franklin as the super-talented Florida State quarterback transfer in Season One of “Last Chance U” on Netflix. A low point of Franklin’s life played out in living rooms across the world as he played sporadically behind Wyatt Roberts at East Mississippi Community College, but the south Florida native turned that strife into a lesson in persistence. 

From East Mississippi Community College, Franklin transferred to Auburn, where he stayed as a quarterback but didn’t see the field much. He graduated from Auburn and transferred to play his final year of college ball at Florida Atlantic, where Lane Kiffin gave him a shot at playing wide receiver. He didn’t put up the kind of production as either a quarterback or a receiver to get drafted, but his excellent speed is a trait that got him into rookie minicamp. 

After failing to secure a gig with the Seattle Seahawks at their rookie minicamp, the Bears brought Franklin to Halas Hall as a defensive back for a tryout a week later. He signed shortly after, and here he is, trying to figure out how to make it in the NFL at a position he’s never played on a side of the ball he was completely unfamiliar with until May. 

“People are so quick to quit when it doesn’t work the first time,” Franklin said. “It’s like, if you really give up and it didn’t work, then you really didn’t want it. If you keep pushing, it’s going to happen. Life’s not going to be peaches and cream, but you get what you get.”

Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell couldn’t recall ever seeing a player make the switch from offense to cornerback without any prior defensive experience before, let alone for a rookie battling to make a roster. 

“It doesn’t come up that much and usually they have some kind of training in there,” Donatell said. “Nothing comes to mind. 

“But why not us? Why can’t we?”

This isn’t a story about a player who is likely to important to the Bears’ success in 2018, like Trubisky or Allen Robinson or Leonard Floyd or Kyle Fuller. The odds are massively stacked against Franklin, especially after he was picked on by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate in last week’s preseason game (he did, too, have a nice break-up of a pass intended for Ka’Raun White). The stuff Franklin is learning right now are second nature to most NFL cornerbacks who’ve played the position — or at least, played on defense — their entire football lives. 

“I definitely feel like I was in good position most of the night, I just gotta — I know one thing I’m focusing on is getting my head around,” Franklin said. “That’s one thing that I still haven’t felt 100 percent comfortable with and that’s one of the things a lot of the vets are working with me on is to make sure I get my head around because most of the time I’m in a good position. Just finding the ball is still very new to me.” 

Training camp and preseason practices, then, present a difficult dichotomy for Franklin. On one hand, he knows he has to be patient as he learns an entirely new job that he likened to “trying to write with your non-dominant hand.” On the other hand, he has to show considerable progress to even be considered for a spot on a practice squad, let alone a 53-man roster. 

While Franklin has seen himself make significant progress on tape over the last few months and weeks, he knows he’s not where he needs to be or where he thinks he can be. It’s sort of a race against time for him, because rookies who don’t make a roster or practice squad usually don’t get a second chance in the league. 

“He’s such a willing soul,” Donatell said. “He came in here, he’s taking everything in, the veterans are helping him. But he has a skillset that you can see him doing things on the other side of the football that we want to translate to defense. … It’s a race for us right now and a race through this month, and he’s willing. We see progress every day. Time will tell how much.”

What Franklin puts on tape in these final three preseason games — Saturday against the Denver Broncos, Aug. 25 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Aug. 30 against the Buffalo Bills — will be critically important to his chances of sticking in some capacity in the NFL when the regular season starts.

Taking a step back, the task seems almost impossible. This is a guy who played quarterback his whole life, then moonlighted as a receiver for a year, and now is trying to make it in the NFL playing cornerback. It would be a remarkable feat if Franklin were to make a practice squad and allow himself more weeks and months to develop. 

But there’s no doubting Franklin’s desire to make it work. He wants to make it work to live out his dream of playing in the NFL, one he’s had since he was four. He wants to make it work to repay his parents for all they did for him. He wants to make it work to be an inspiration to others to never give up on their goals. 

Will it work? We’ll see. But it’s not in Franklin’s nature to give up, no matter how much of a longshot he may be. 

“I’m accepting the challenge,” Franklin said. “Doing something different at the highest level of football ain’t easy by any means.

“But it’s also doable and possible.”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.