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Smith offers few details on Bears' injuries

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Smith offers few details on Bears' injuries

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Coach Lovie Smith says the Chicago Bears are still evaluating injuries to linebacker Brian Urlacher and several other players in Sunday's overtime loss to Seattle.

Smith indicated Monday that Urlacher pulled a hamstring on the game's final drive, but backed away from that after a follow-up question. Urlacher told a Chicago TV station he was simply sore.

Either way, the Bears (8-4) are banged-up.

They had already lost guard Lance Louis to a season-ending knee injury in the previous game and ruled out Devin Hester (concussion) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) during the week. They lost a few more players in a 23-17 loss to Seattle.

Safety Chris Conte (illness) and receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) left the game, and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) was injured on the final drive, a few plays before Urlacher hobbled off the field.

Urlacher came up lame in coverage on the game's second-to-last snap, a 12-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin that put the ball on the 13. He was not on the field for Sidney Rice's winning touchdown catch.

Would Urlacher have been able to return had the hamstring issue cropped up earlier in the game?

``Pulled hamstring?'' Smith shot back. ``What is your question again?''

Asked if Urlacher actually has a pulled hamstring, Smith said, ``Hamstring injury to take you out of the game? I'm asking you. What is your question?''

Smith went on to say, ``If you have an injury and you can't play, we take you out of the game whenever that happens.''

Urlacher told Fox Chicago on Sunday night, ``It's not an injury yet. It's just sore. It's a little bit sore right now. It's sore right now. That's all it is is sore right now.''

The Bears' next game is at Minnesota, their second against the Vikings' in three weeks, and if Urlacher isn't ready, Nick Roach would likely start at middle linebacker.

The hamstring problem is just the latest issue for the eight-time Pro Bowl player. Urlacher was sidelined almost all of the preseason because of a knee injury and hasn't been as explosive as he was in the past, although he did force an early fumble by Marshawn Lynch that led to the game's first touchdown.

Even if he's not at his physical peak, Urlacher remains an integral part of the defense for his leadership, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the Bears will have a decision to make.

All that will play out later.

Smith was clear about one thing Monday - the Bears will not be bringing in another receiver.

They were down three after Bennett went out, with Hester and Alshon Jeffery (knee) sidelined. And Brandon Marshall lobbied after the game for free agent Mike Sims-Walker, his teammate at Central Florida.

Smith insisted that's not happening.

``We're going to go with the guys that we have right now,'' he said. ``We're going to get some guys back this week and we'll be fine.''

The Bears hope Jeffery can return this week after missing six of the past seven games - four with a hand injury before hurting his knee against San Francisco on Nov. 19. The Bears are also hoping Hester and Bennett won't be far behind in coming back from their injuries.

It would help, too, if another receiver stepped up to take the load off Marshall.

He has 91 of the Bears' 217 receptions and nearly half of their 2,436 yards receiving with 1,182. Part of the lack of distribution to other targets falls on the blocking, with Jay Cutler often rushed and with no time to find his second or third option.

But the other receivers aren't without blame. Jeffery has shown promise opposite Marshall at times, but Smith would like to see more from that group.

``I think we've been saying that for a while, someone needs to (step up),'' he said. ``I think the guys will say that. Hopefully, we still have time. Hopefully, we'll get Alshon Jeffery back. He has wanted to move into that role when he's been healthy. Hopefully, we get Devin Hester back in the mix. We're getting plays from Earl. Eric Weems (Sunday) did some good things.''

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Nationals set to bring back Matt Adams

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals set to bring back Matt Adams

The Nationals just checked another box.

They have reached an agreement to bring back first baseman Matt Adams, pending a physical, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

The deal is for one year with a mutual option in 2020.

Adams flourished last season with the Nationals when he delivered an .842 OPS with an 118 OPS-plus in 306 at-bats as a part-time player. He was crucial since Ryan Zimmerman spent the middle of the season on the disabled list.

The Nationals later flipped Adams to the St. Louis Cardinals for “cash considerations”, which made him little more than a waiver claim for St. Louis. The Nationals just saved the remainder he was owed on his contract following the Aug. 21 transaction.

Adams, a quiet professional, fit well in the clubhouse. One on-field tear earned him a T-shirt homage to his nickname: “Big City doing Big City things” that several of his teammates wore pregame.

His role will be the same as last season: insurance for Zimmerman, as well as a power left-handed bat off the bench who will receive the occasional start if Zimmerman is healthy.

Adams’ return also enables the Nationals to shop for a true second baseman as opposed to a hybrid player like Marwin Gonzalez. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has continually moved the needle from standing pat to hunting for a starting second baseman. For now, a platoon of Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick is in place.

The Nationals' largest gap remains in the rotation following the trade of Tanner Roark. They need to find 180 innings in a thin free agent pitching market to replace Roark’s production from the last three seasons.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement with Adams.

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John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

From the front office's perspective, the timing of the Wizards' trade for Trevor Ariza could not have been better. They secured the player they wanted as early as he could be traded, on Dec. 15.

From the players' perspective, the timing could not have been worse. They had just lost a game to the Brooklyn Nets and were in the locker room when reports began surfacing on social media. Those involved, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, had to address reporters, not knowing where they would be moving to the coming days.

Then, as the trade saga took on new forms, they rode the bus and then on the plane with the Wizards, surrounded by those they would soon call former teammates. Their phones were buzzing with messages from people asking what was going on, when they themselves didn't know.

John Wall has seen plenty over the course of his nine NBA seasons, including Kirk Hinrich getting traded at halftime back in 2011. But he hadn't seen this.

"It was kind of weird and kind of difficult," Wall said. "[We] go into the locker room and we're about to shower and stuff and we don't understand who is about to get traded, who's been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past."

As NBA Twitter did backflips over the absurdity playing out in real time, how the deal was originally supposed to have three teams and it fell through allegedly because of a mixup over which 'Brooks' was getting traded from Memphis, the Wizards were following along, on the bus and with two parties involved sitting nearby. 

"You don't see that a lot. I feel for Kelly and Austin who were put on that trip back here and not knowing what was going on," Bradley Beal said.

Like with most trades, the players offered a mixed reaction with teammates leaving, but help also coming in. They know Ariza well from his days in Washington back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and believe he will bring defense and three-point shooting, two things the Wizards currently need.

There was a human element of seeing Oubre and Rivers go, though, that both Wall and Beal felt. Oubre, in particular, had become woven into the fabric of the organization over the past three-plus years. He arrived as a first round pick in 2015 and grew up in their system.

"It is kind of devastating for those guys who came in and tried to give it everything they have," Wall said. "Especially K.O., being here four years, watching him develop from his rookie year not getting any minutes and coming into his own and being an X-factor for our team the last couple of years, it's sad to see him go."

Wall continued to say he wishes both players the best with the Phoenix Suns. The Wizards happen to play Phoenix in a week, on Dec. 22 in Washington.

Ultimately, the trade served a reminder to Wall, Beal and others that the Wizards have some urgency to turn things around. They are in the luxury tax with the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA. An 11-18 record after 29 games just isn't good enough to justify the resources being committed.

Wall explained in detail how he believes money was a consideration.

"The only thing I really can think of from my standpoint is that Trevor makes $15 [million], I think. Austin made [$12.65 million] and Kelly makes [$3.21 million] this year," he said.

"It was a situation where we were in a tough bind. We have three guys that are paid pretty high. And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don't think we have the money to match it. So, I think that's the reason why we made that trade."

This is the third trade the Wizards have made already this season. All three deals have saved them money, but this one has the highest likelihood to make a difference on the court.

The players are optimistic Ariza can prove the missing piece.

"We needed a change," Beal said. "Hopefully this is the change that sparks some energy out of us, some life out of us, that will get us to play the way we know we're capable of playing."

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