Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 6:47pm
Jay Cutler's interactions with teammates and the media always seem to creep into the narrative about the quarterback, and on Tuesday Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said "we've absolutely noticed a difference in Jay."
"It might be true. Anytime you are in an offense and have the same group of guys around you, it's going to be more comfortable. It is for me anyway," Cutler said. "I like the group of guys we have in the locker room, understand what we are doing offensively. And it's early. It's still preseason with you guys."
Described as petulant to the media in the past with televised on-field blowups with teammates and coaches as evidence that he's been difficult to get along with, Cutler hasn't displayed such qualities so far. But to Cutler's credit, he didn't in 2013 either.
Going into 2014, Kromer believes Cutler is taking on more of a leadership role. He's moved on to a new staff led by an offensive-minded head coach in Marc Trestman. He's finally protected well, and not taking unnecessary punishment every time he drops back to pass. He's surrounded by a bevy of weapons on offense, and playing in an offensive system he believes in strongly on a new seven-year contract.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:12pm
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, head coach Chip Kelly made it sound like that may have changed due to the running back missing over two weeks of practice with a hamstring injury.
"It's a big factor," Kelly said of Polk missing time. "You gotta be able to play. It's tough for us to say, we know what you can do, but you also have to go out on the field and show it."
Polk was expected to be LeSean McCoy's backup with Darren Sproles remaining as more of a receiver if McCoy would go down at any point this season. With Polk absent, backup running backs Matthew Tucker and Henry Josey have gained ground on him for the final spot. Tucker had two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears in the team's first preseason game, and Henry had an impressive touchdown catch against the New England Patriots last week.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 8:15pm
Veteran Josh Morgan receives his turn on the No. 3 receiver carousel Friday when the Chicago Bears face the Seattle Seahawks on the road for preseason game No. 3, according to Bears coach Marc Trestman.
"It's still wide open," Trestman said of the club's search for a No. 3 receiver. "In terms of how we're doing it, Josh Morgan will get some work this week. We'll see where the other guys are as we move through the end of the week, but Josh will get the first shot at it as we work into this week's practice and as we work into the game."
Although the club signed Santonio Holmes on Saturday, it's expected he won't receive sufficient repetitions at practice this week to make an impact against the Seahawks. Holmes spent several minutes after practice Monday working with backup quarterback Jordan Palmer and receivers coach Mike Groh in an effort to quickly acclimate himself to Chicago's system.
The Bears WR3 likely won't be a factor in typical fantasy leagues, but in slightly deeper leagues the winner of this battle could have some value. Morgan could have the edge right now due to Holmes not knowing the system.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 3:41pm
Bears WR Marquess Wilson — the smooth, speedy offseason standout who had been in line for the Bears' No. 3 receiver job — is likely to be sidelined until at least midseason, a person with knowledge of the injury told USA TODAY Sports on Monday.
Wilson, 21, broke his collarbone in three places when he was injured in practice two weeks ago, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because injury details were to remain private. He had surgery Aug. 5 and the initial timeline for recovery was set at 12 to 14 weeks.
That could make Wilson a candidate for short-term injured reserve if the Bears believe he can return to help them in the second half of the season. They also could save that designation for another player and put Wilson on season-ending IR, or they could carry Wilson on the 53-man roster in hopes his recovery is faster than expected, though that would take away a spot from a healthy player.
The injury has created an opportunity for free agent Santonio Holmes, who signed a one-year contract with the Bears on Saturday after four often-disappointing seasons with the New York Jets. Holmes will have limited fantasy value behind WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but could prove worthy in deeper leagues.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 1:20pm
Mulligan caught a team-high four passes for 39 yards, including a 23-yarder to the Jacksonville 2 that set up a late touchdown, helping the Bears rally for a 20-19 preseason win.
“We’ve seen it during practice,” said coach Marc Trestman. “We’ve seen his speed in practice, we’ve seen his ability to run vertically up the field and make plays, which showed up [Thursday] night and it’s showed up in practice. He’s shown good hands and good speed, besides his ability to block at his point of attack, so we’re excited about it.”
With tight end Zachary Miller suffering a season-ending foot injury against the Jaguars, Mulligan’s role could expand, but perhaps not to being considered fantasy-worthy. Dante Rosario sat out the Jacksonville game with a sore calf, leaving Mulligan, starter Martellus Bennett and Jeron Mastrud as the Bears’ only healthy tight ends. We heard rumors of the Bears using two TE sets when Miller was standing out, but it remains to be seen if they continue down that road now that he's lost for the season.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 8:58pm
The team is searching for two players to back up Matt Forte and waiting for runners to separate themselves.
‘‘We haven’t been productive,’’ coach Marc Trestman said. ‘‘We’re playing against a very good front during practice, but we haven’t shown that productivity. We hope that’s not an indication.’’
Ka’Deem Carey has 23 carries but just 59 with one TD in the preseason. Shaun Draughn, the veteran, does have NFL experience but isn't a guy the team spent a draft pick on so he may not have that extra edge Carey likely does.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:39am
Former Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes has agreed to terms with the Bears, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Bears visit the Jets in Week 3 – a Monday night game on Sept. 22. Both teams will be interested to see how much Holmes has left.
Holmes does not figure to be a major contributor initially for the Bears. Their top receivers are Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, whom the Jets passed on in the 2012 draft, to select Stephen Hill. (To this point, Jeffery has been far more productive than Hill).
The Bears' second-string receivers are Marquess Wilson and Eric Weems, with Josh Bellamy and Josh Morgan occupying the third line on the depth chart. Wilson, the leading candidate to be the team's No. 3 receiver, sustained a broken collarbone earlier this month in a training camp practice. It remains unclear how long Wilson will be out, but the Bears don't expect to begin the season with him.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:19am
Foles, coming off his two-interception preseason debut last Friday against the Bears, bounced back from his spotty performance and returned to Folesian form Friday night in New England.
“Yeah, I thought he bounced back,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “Unfortunately the first play of the game, we fumbled and couldn’t get them (the Pats' offense) off the field, so it took a while to get back into rhythm. I thought when he got back out there, I was pleased with how he performed and how he moved those guys down the field a little bit.”
Despite having his two top receivers sidelined, Foles completed 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and tossed a touchdown in his four total series (see 10 observations). He compiled a passer rating of 133.8.
Foles looked great all week in team drills against New England and in limited time thanks to turnovers, turned in another good performance. We've seen him bounce back before, like last year in a brutal game against the Cowboys, he was fantastic the rest of the season. He continues to be a middle round target for those who wait at QB.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 7:07pm
The Chicago Bears announced on Friday they have placed tight end Zachary Miller, who suffered a foot injury during the second quarter of the club’s win Thursday night over the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the injured reserve while signing receiver Kofi Hughes to a one-year contract.
The severity of Miller’s injury wasn’t immediately disclosed, as he was visiting a doctor Friday undergoing an MRI exam and a CT scan as the club made the announcement.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 11:42am
With Bears WR Marquess Wilson expected to miss time in the regular season because of a broken collarbone at camp, competition has opened up for the No. 3 receiver position. Eric Weems appears to be the favorite but doesn't exactly stand out as much as he exhibits consistency. Josh Morgan provides flash plays and run-after-catch ability, but he lacks Weems' consistency. Josh Bellamy, Micheal Spurlock and Chris Williams are also in the mix. But expect the team's decision to come down to Weems and Morgan.
Shaun Draughn was the first back to get action behind Matt Forte for the second straight game. He’s been listed as the No. 2 on the depth chart that is worth about as much as the paper it is printed on. But Draughn has bounced around enough to know he hasn’t nailed down anything just yet.
“I don’t have the No. 2 job so I don’t have it to lose,” he said. “I’m gunning to make the team. No. 2 or No. 3 it doesn’t matter. When I make the team, I will help wherever they want me.”
Draughn carried the ball three times for 33 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards. A 14-yard reception was wiped out by a holding penalty against left tackle Jermon Bushrod. He’s clearly ahead of fourth-round pick Ka’Deem Carey right now even though the 26-year-old Draughn doesn’t have a whole lot of NFL experience to draw from.
Draughn doesn't have much standalone value, but Matt Forte owners (or those that want to mess with the Forte owner in their league) may want to consider Draughn in the final rounds as a handcuff.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 10:17pm
Most of the tight end’s work came against the second team defense. But when the Eagles went with two or three tight-end sets against New England’s starters, Ertz got open nearly as much.
His play through all of training camp -- which ended with Thursday’s light practice -- and the first preseason game has suggested that Ertz needs to see more time with the first team.
But whether Eagles coach Chip Kelly needs to see improvement in the second-year tight end’s blocking, or he doesn’t yet want to promote him over veteran Brent Celek, or he’s waiting to unveil an offense that is heavy with two tight ends, Ertz will have to wait.
This is our primary concern with Ertz -- playing time. He averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there. If he can take a step forward in the blocking department, it will help his overall fantasy outlook.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 9:52am
Bears TE Zachary Miller followed up his two-touchdown performance against the Eagles with impressive practices in Bourbonnais. He might turn out to be the Bears’ next-best receiving option after losing Marquess Wilson. “He’s a good weapon,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said.
It's conceivable that the Bears could play more two-TE sets with Wilson on the shelf, but Miller has had his own problems staying healthy during his career.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz had a very good day, as the Patriots defense struggled sticking with him. Want to cover Ertz with a linebacker? Good luck. Want to go nickel when Ertz is in there? Prepare to get pounded with the run. The Eagles have three players who can be mismatch nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, and Ertz.
Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there. For Ertz to break out in 2014, he needs to play more snaps.
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