2. For veteran players that are cut it can be a difficult transition. Anthony Adams found out more than he ever expected to, at least this year, after the Bears released him back in February. He’s still hoping to get back in the league but he didn’t get a sniff during the offseason and said no teams have called his agent Joel Segal.
Adams has created a following on his Twitter handle @spiceadams and turned some amusing phrases related to “Stuff free agents say” into a trio of fun YouTube videos. The first one
begins with Adams driving a minivan with his children in the back when he turns to the camera and says, “I like spending time with my kids more so than playing on the football field anyway.”
Throughout the first video, he makes his way through the pantry and says repeatedly, “I’m gonna start this diet next week.” But Adams is in good shape and he had just finished a boxing workout Wednesday morning when he talked about what is going on and if he’s surprised, at 32, no team has a need for him right now.
“I’m really not surprised at anything that goes on in the league,” Adams said. “The longer you play, the more things you see. You can’t really be surprised about anybody’s situation because it is very unpredictable. This is what we signed up for so you can’t be surprised about anything. Just gotta make sure you take care of things on your end by staying in shape and doing everything you can possibly do so if you get an opportunity you can make the most of it.”
Throughout the video, Adams is nervous every time his cell phone rings. He’s expecting a call from Segal or a team. He never gets the news he’s seeking.
“I talked to (Segal) yesterday actually,” Adams said. “I am leaving him alone and letting him take care of everything he needs to take care of. The first time I was a free agent after my contract was up in San Francisco, I was calling him every day. At that time, I was like 26. I was calling him every day, just hounding him. Now, it’s a little bit different. I let him do his job. I trust him. I know he is going to do right by me.”
The reality is another opportunity might not come for Adams, who spent five seasons with the Bears. Very few players exit the game on their own terms. He certainly didn’t expect to be out of work but his playing time was drastically reduced last season when he was inactive for four of the final six games.
The second video
features Adams talking about his first love -- basketball -- and has cameo appearances from former Bears teammates Nathan Vasher and Jason McKie. Adams talks about becoming a rapper in the third video
. It’s all the kind of funny stuff that made him very popular with teammates. Remember, Adams was the one that would inspire the entire team in a huddle prior to games.
While the videos are fun and games there is a darker side to preparing for work that might not ever come again. There is a transition phase players go through when their careers end and Adams just might be in the middle of his. During the end of the first video, he’s crying in the shower. It’s amusing, but …
“I don’t think players should take it lightly,” he said. “You become depressed and sad. You lose your drive. You feel like you don’t have anything to get up for. You don’t have that structure. You don’t have an 8 o’clock meeting. You lose that structure and you get depressed fast. I am serious. I went through that a little bit. I went through that with the lockout and I’m going through it a little bit now.”
Adams has made some media appearances and he’s working through an MBA program with George Washington University that he will complete next summer. He has a paper due Friday. He’s not ruling anything out in his future when it comes to a little comedy and the media.
“If NBC calls and wanted me to do ‘Saturday Night Live,’ I’m all for it,” he said. “Let’s get it on. I’m not turning down anything right now. I’ve got three kids. I’ve got to go pick them up soon. It’s the free-agent life. I’ve got to do something. My wife is like, ‘Listen, get away! Get out of this house. Leave me alone. I love you, but.’”
Turns out his wife runs the camera for the videos and a fourth one will be released soon.
“Going to be amazing,” he said. “This one right here I am very proud of. It’ll come out in probably two weeks. I don’t want people to start getting sick of me and say, ‘Man, will this guy shut up and sit down somewhere.’ I’m going to let the smoke clear a little bit.”
Adams is also selling T-shirts he wears in the videos through http://americanoutfitters.com/
. All of the proceeds from the sales are being channeled to PCAR – Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. He’s always been community minded. If nothing else, he’s got a head start on a transition to life after football.
“You get a wake-up call and after a while you just start shooting videos and then you start crying in the shower,” Adams said. “That’s all I do now is tweet, work out and cry in the shower.”
What’s he make of the Bears’ chances this season?
“I think they’re going to be explosive,” he said. “I like the addition of Brandon Marshall and the rookie wide receiver they got (Alshon) Jeffery and the one-two punch of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. That was very uncharacteristic to go after Marshall the way they did. But it seems like it is paying off for them now. (Jay) Cutler to Marshall, I think that will be golden.”
He probably would have been singing for joy in the shower if the offense looked this explosive when he was with the team.
3. So what do young players on the roster bubble do on final cutdown day? Hurry up and wait for the phone not to ring. No joke.
The Bears summon players that will be released to Halas Hall where they go through an exit process. It’s quick and efficient and generally there isn’t a lot of emotion. What happens to the players who claim the final few roster spots? Their phones don’t ring. As a general rule, NFL clubs don’t call players that have made the team to notify them of the news. They are left to sit around and wonder, talk to their agent and pick up, where they can, news of the fate of others.
“It’s a terrible way to go about it,” said wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who went through the process last year and could be a bubble player again. “I don’t know how that is the way it is still done. They should let you know either way. I was thinking the same thing last year. Why is it that we wait for it not to ring? Why don’t you just call me and tell me either way? I don’t know. Hopefully, it doesn’t ring. It’s a strange situation but so is this business.”
Defensive tackle Nate Collins has been through the drill before.
“You just sit and stare at your phone,” he said.
The problem with that is he will have family and friends calling him to see what his situation is. On a day he doesn’t want to hear the phone ring, it’s going to be ringing a lot.
“Everyone will hit me up in the morning and I’ll be like, ‘Yo!’” Collins said. “But I am firm believer everything happens for a reason. If I was to get the call, hopefully I’ve got good enough tape this training camp that someone else will invite me in to their team. I did everything I could do. I have to focus on things I can control. Now, it’s up to the coaches and everyone else who makes those decisions.”
Defensive end Cheta Ozougwu, who had a sack as he continued to apply pressure on the quarterback, has been in a situation before where he was waiting for a phone call. He was the last player to get a call in the 2011 draft when the Houston Texans made him Mr. Irrelevant, a distinction he knew nothing about before the process. He got a trip to Disneyland and the whole celebration in Newport Beach, Calif.
“That was the most nerve-racking experience of my life, the draft,” Ozougwu said. “I was waiting and you get phone calls in the fifth-, sixth-round and it’s not the call you want. But I was very fortunate to get the call so I was happy Houston gave me an opportunity.
“Hopefully, I don’t get a phone call in this situation. If I do, I know God has got me covered and his will is the best will for me. So, I’m not anxious at all or worrying or anything. You just get your mind off it. I am probably going to be chilling, call my fam and keep my mind occupied. I’m going to get into the word, read my Bible, pray on it. Have people in my close circle around me to talk. I’m just going to try to keep it positive.”
Why do teams not call players that have made the team? Rosters are constantly in flux, especially with the 53rd, 52nd and 51st spots. There is a lot of turnover. A player that makes the team one hour could be gone the next if another personnel option becomes available. Injuries play a factor. The waiver wire comes into play. There are a ton of variables and the alternative would be a lot of situations where players are told they’ve made a team only to be called back and told to come on in to go through the process of being released.
4. Brian Price pulls his iPhone out of his locker and shows you the screensaver. It’s a photo of an X-ray and it looks like something out of a medical school book.
“That’s all of it,” he says of his surgically repaired hips and hamstrings. “There are the screws they put in. That’s where they did it.”
It seems like an odd choice for a screen saver but not for Price, who is fighting to consistently regain the form that led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to choose him 35th overall in the 2010 draft.
“It’s motivation for me that I’ve got to go get it each and every day,” he said.
Against the Browns, Price was not credited with any stats by press box workers and he left the game in the second half to be evaluated for a head injury. In other words, they needed to check him out for a possible concussion. Price finished the preseason with two solo tackles and two assists, probably not the kind of production he envisioned.
He is still adjusting some to his new surroundings. He’s working to get into football shape after missing offseason work to deal with the emotional personal issues he’s faced. Price didn’t finish practice on Tuesday after he fell ill. He’s had some nagging injuries and needs to be better conditioned.
“Each day I am getting better and better. I surprise myself sometimes,” he said. “It’s coming out here being willing to learn and take coaching. It’s fun. I am enjoying it.”
He played through the pain in his hips last season, working his way through scar tissue that is still there.
“I don’t even pay attention to it anymore,” he said. “I just gotta go. It was just hell. The pain is still there. But it was more than that, being in that situation and losing (in Tampa Bay), all the factors, it was all bad.”
Price says when he does feel the pain it starts in his back and goes all the way down.
“It’s burning, aching, stabbing pain,” he said.
But it is getting better and he’s not focused on that. Before him is a fresh opportunity in a defensive scheme that fits his strengths. If he can round his way back into shape, he could be a contributor. By no means is a roster spot secured for Price based on the seventh-round draft pick the Bears traded to acquire him, but it would be a little surprising if he was cut loose. That is because the team knew it was getting a player it was going to need to spend time with and develop when the deal was made. No one expected Price to come in and turn the depth chart upside down when he arrived. The plan when the trade was made was to see if he could be developed. There is a small investment in Price and chances are the Bears are going to be willing to see things out.
“I didn’t know him,” defensive line coach Mike Phair said. “You watch him. It’s getting better. You can see that. I don’t know where he is at physically. I don’t the extent of all the things before. But he is getting there.”
5. The battle for the third running back job has gotten interesting. I thought all along that Armando Allen had an edge on Lorenzo Booker but if that was the case, the gap has been narrowed. There is no question about that. Booker had some nice runs against the Browns to finish with 81 yards on 15 carries. But the veteran went to the locker room in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a head injury. It is worth noting that Booker was held out during the middle of last season by the Vikings with a concussion. That’s not to say he suffered one here in the win over the Browns, but it’s useful information in the context of the situation.
Booker looks to be a better fit in the running game even though Allen had 83 yards in 16 carries. Allen propped up his totals with a breakaway 49-yard run late in the game. But Allen is a nice fit in the passing game and caught a game-high five passes for 51 yards including an 18-yarder and an 11-yard touchdown after he was split out wide.
Allen also helped his case by forcing a fumble on a punt return in the fourth quarter. It could be that the decision ultimately comes down to special teams and while Booker had a 105-yard touchdown return in preseason, he’s not going to eclipse Devin Hester or Eric Weems on the depth chart at that position right now. When in doubt, I always recommend following the money. Booker is due to earn $700,000. Allen’s contract is for $390,000. Enough to make a difference alone? No, but it’s always part of the equation.
One final factor to keep in mind: Allen has eligibility for the practice squad.
6. Lot of questions via Twitter (@BradBiggs) on Thursday about the new policy in the NFL that allows teams to designate one player on injured reserve for a potential return during the season. Readers want to know if the Bears could apply this new rule to rookie safety Brandon Hardin, who was placed on IR earlier this week following the neck injury he sustained in the second week of preseason. In order to do so, the Bears would have to take advantage of an exception that would allow them to pull Hardin off IR and then carry him through final cuts before returning him to the IR list next week.
Under the new rule, each team is allowed to designate one player per season for a potential return from the IR and the designation must be made at the time the player is added to the reserve list. The player must have a major injury that renders him unable to practice for at least six weeks. The player is not eligible to return to practice for a period of six weeks and cannot be reinstated to the active 53-man roster for at least eight weeks. At any time after the six-week period of not practicing, the player can begin a three-week period where he does work on the field to be evaluated for a potential return to the active roster.
My guess here – and this is just a hunch – is that the Bears do not apply their designation to Hardin. Neck injuries are as delicate an injury as a player can get. The Bears are going to proceed with complete caution with Hardin, who was wondering about the new rule on his Twitter account.
“I need to find out more about this new IR rule ... cause eventually I will be healthy to play,” Hardin wrote.
He wasn’t challenging for playing time on defense during training camp and preseason. So, it didn’t look like he was going to be in position to contribute there right away. That is why I figure the club will save its designation for someone else. The Bears would hate to use it on Hardin and then have a core player suffer an eight-week injury early in the season. Then, the club would have to make a hard decision on a player that is a major contributor knowing a roster space would be taken up for a long period of time because the designation was already in place with Hardin. Just a little speculation.
The bottom line is this is a positive rule the NFL has introduced and one that should be beneficial for teams and players around the league. It makes so much sense you wonder why it took so long to be introduced.
7. It’s hard to say exactly what way general manager Phil Emery will go when it comes to making some final roster decisions. But the loss of linebacker Dom DeCicco, who was waived/injured on Wednesday, creates a void on special teams. DeCicco was second on the team in tackles last season as an undrafted rookie free agent and now the Bears are without six of their top seven tacklers on special teams from 2011. Veteran safety Craig Steltz, who was fourth, is the only returner.
Who was eighth on the team in tackles for Toub last year? Linebackers Patrick Trahan and Jabara Williams tied with five tackles each – one solo and four assists for both players. Trahan had 110 snaps on special teams. Williams had 109. Neither player was sensational but both could figure in the decision process.
Trahan was credited with a blocked punt when he bull rushed Rod Windsor into Browns punter Reggie Hodges.
“I felt like every game I improved and that’s what you want to do,” Trahan said. “I played a lot of special teams last year. I just want to show I am reliable player and they can put me out there and there will not be a problem. I made some plays.”
Xavier Adibi, an addition during training camp, showed up too. He made seven tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss. He credited the defensive linemen for allowing him to roam free and make plays.
“Our film is our resume,” Adibi said. “I did my best. If it doesn’t work out here, hopefully it will work out somewhere else.”
Adibi has some experience on special teams too. He played 52 snaps for the Vikings last season.
Coach Lovie Smith also singled out safety Jeremy Jones for his performance. Jones intercepted Colt McCoy in the first quarter and made four tackles, including some open-field stops. Jones spent the offseason program and the first half of training camp working with nickel cornerbacks. He was shifted back to safety midway through training camp and believes he’s settled in. It’s possible he’s considered for the practice squad.
8. Ryan Quigley was steady again filling in for Adam Podlesh but it would not be a surprise if the team continued to investigate all possible avenues and hold more tryouts at Halas Hall this coming week. More punters are going to be hitting the street at final cuts and the Bears want to have an exact handle on what is available.
Quigley will certainly be in the mix if a fill-in is needed while Podlesh recovers from his left hip flexor injury. He performed well against the Browns with four punts – three that landed inside the 20-yard line, including a rugby-style kick that was covered at the Browns’ 7.
“You talk about taking advantage of your opportunities, last week of course, on the national stage he really stepped up and did a great job,” Lovie Smith said. “He’s been doing it in practice and he did it again tonight.”
The Bears have already tried out seven punters and they made an unsuccessful waiver claim for Spencer Lanning. Unless the team is absolutely convinced Podlesh will be OK to play in the Sept. 9 season opener with the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field Sept. 9, there will be a second punter around all week. The Bears can carry one on the 53-man roster or store a young player like Quigley on the practice squad. If Quigley was on the practice squad, he would need to be promoted to the 53-man roster the day before the game, Sept. 8, in order to be eligible. The Bears cannot assume Podlesh will be fine to punt and not have another option available, ready and familiar with what special teams coordinator Dave Toub wants. But the Bears will not use a vested veteran that has not previously exercised a right to termination pay to fill in for Podlesh. That would be a costly replacement option for a week or two.
9. Josh McCown made an interesting observation about backup quarterbacks and the benefits of having a good athlete behind the starter. McCown moves well and can avoid pressure much the same way Jay Cutler does. McCown rushed for 38 yards in his start at Green Bay last season and had 30 yards the following week at Minnesota.
“Comparisons in our athletic ability pretty much stops there,” McCown said. “Arm strength wise he is in a different stratosphere. Being able to move and get around and get away, it’s always been my opinion that is something for a backup you have guys that know it and can get the ball out that way and also have some mobility and aren’t just complete statues and can move around and escape and get away just because you are go in playing on limited reps and some things may not present themselves as clean as you thought. Your feet can kind of help you out a little bit.”
Maybe McCown doesn’t have a spot on the 53-man roster finalized yet. It remains to be seen if the Bears will keep three quarterbacks are opt to go with just Cutler and Jason Campbell, who was signed to a $3.5 million, one-year contract.
McCown was classy afterward and he credited “those young linemen that played their tails off. He wasn’t sacked and the offense, for being pieced together with mostly third teamers, was relatively smooth, especially in the first half when he completed 16 of 20 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He had the unusual experience of playing the entire game in preseason.
“You have to go play and play hard, that’s the only way I know how to do it,” McCown said. “Regardless of how they feel (the coaching staff) you have to go out and play hard. I am proud of the guys that play with me. A lot of them were probably in junior high school when I started playing in the league, but they all play hard. The last drive, just the heart. Armando, I know we’re down to one running back, but Armando played with a lot of heart. That’s the special cool things. It’s the fourth preseason game, and it’s not that big of a deal, but for the guys in there playing it is. The reality is, it may be the last time you put the pads on, you just don’t know. It’s special to finish strong like that for those guys. I am happy for those guys to have that moment, and play hard to finish that game.”
Asked about his personal situation, McCown talked about those around him.
“More importantly, there are 10 other guys and their careers are on the line as well,” he said. “As a quarterback you want to move the ball and give them as many opportunities as you can to make plays so they can put themselves in position.”
10. No opposing scouts to report in the press box for the game. The NFL moved up the final cutdown date by a day and with teams having to trim down their rosters by 8 p.m. Friday, personnel men are remaining with their teams to prepare for the season.
10 a. Matt Blanchard, the undrafted rookie free agent quarterback from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater that was let go in the first round of cuts by the Bears, had a tryout with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday. He worked out for the Dolphins in the spring prior to the draft so he’s been on their radar. Speculation is veteran quarterback David Garrard might not be ready for the regular season because of knee surgery but if Blanchard lands a job anywhere chances are best it will be on a practice squad.
10 b. The Bears held out a total of 36 players from the game and they only brought 74 with them to Cleveland. A Browns official said Cleveland used “about” 40 players and the press box statistics showed 29 players did not enter the game.
10 c. Why will the NFL not do away with four preseason games? This game represented 10 percent of the revenue the Browns will get for home games. Who in their right mind believes NFL owners are going to give away that kind of money?
10 d. With any luck, that will be the final time we see replacement referees for a long time. But it’s worth noting referee Richard Nicks’ crew didn’t stand out like some of the fill-in zebras have done around the NFL in preseason.
10 e. If Brian Urlacher returns to practice Monday, it will have been 34 days since his last practice. All eyes will be on the middle linebacker as game week approaches.
10 f. An injury settlement for linebacker Dom DeCicco will likely be completed soon, perhaps Friday. DeCicco could be eligible to return to the Bears later in the season but depending on the specifics of his settlement, he would not be able to return until probably Week 9 or Week 10. DeCicco should be healed sometime near the middle or end of September and he will obviously be seeking work elsewhere instead of waiting around for an opportunity that might not come from the Bears.
10 g. Just like you, I am looking forward to the regular season.