Biggs 10 thoughts

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by riczaj01, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...-biggs-preseason-20130830,0,115964,full.story

    Biggs' 10 thoughts on Bears roster, cuts

    By Brad Biggs Tribune reporter

    9:42 a.m. CDT, August 30, 2013
    Ten thoughts after the Chicago Bears closed out the preseason Thursday night with an 18-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns, setting up a lot of decisions that need to be made beginning Friday at Halas Hall.
    1. Let’s play roster bingo to begin the column today. The Bears are making announcements on most or all of their roster cuts to reach the 53-man roster on Friday. So these projections could look silly in a matter of hours but the picture has cleared up somewhat in the last week and took more focus during the game as the team held 38 players out of action.
    Here are my projections for the offense:
    Quarterback (2): Jay Cutler, Josh McCown
    Comment: With less than two weeks of full practices to prepare, Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards both looked solid as No. 3 options against Cleveland. Palmer was released Friday. Some penalties held Palmer back and Edwards had an interception returned for a touchdown that wasn’t his fault as the ball went through the hands of tight end Fendi Onobun. Either one could help the team in a pinch this season. But my hunch is the Bears opt for a practice squad addition and as I reported Thursday night, five quarterbacks were put through a tryout on Tuesday -- Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Jerrod Johnson, Alex Carder, Jimmy Coy and Clay Belton.
    Running back (3): Matt Forte, Michael Bush, Armando Allen
    Comment: This is a tough call at the No. 3 position and it could easily go to Michael Ford, the undrafted free agent from LSU. But Allen is back from the hamstring injury he suffered. He has a better understanding of blitz pickup assignments and a running back isn’t going to get on the field if he doesn’t have that down. Allen is more experienced on special teams coverage units too. Ford is a physical runner and looked to be picking things up. This looks like a tough decision.
    Fullback (1): Tony Fiammetta
    Comment: The Bears held him out of the game and that is a good sign he’ll have a spot after the dust settles. Keeping a true fullback adds another dimension for the offense, particularly in the red zone.
    Wide receivers (6): Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Marquess Wilson, Joe Anderson, Eric Weems
    Comment: I don’t believe the Bears are working to trade Bennett, who general manager Phil Emery said during the WBBM-AM 780 broadcast Thursday night could return next week from his concussion. That would be good news for the offense because he was expected to make some solid contributions this season. What’s interesting is Wilson has more or less vaulted into Bennett’s spot while he’s been out and it is clear the team wants to take some time developing the 20-year-old, who was a seventh-round pick from Washington State. He might have been a longshot when training camp opens but he sticks here. I don’t think Anderson is a lock. He did not shine in the summer quite like he did in spring but the guess is he sticks.
    Tight ends (3): Martellus Bennett, Steve Maneri, Kyle Adams
    Comment: Fendi Onobun got about every imaginable opportunity to make the squad and there is no denying his athletic prowess. But the longer he was on the field the more apparent it was that football is not instinctive to him at this point. He’s got a different skill set that would set him apart from these other players, but he’s too inconsistent to be trusted, he can’t be put on the field in a regular-season game. If that’s the case it would be difficult to justify a roster spot. Onobun has practice squad eligibility. Adams has been prone to some injuries. Keep an eye on this position because it is one the team could supplement after final cuts.
    Offensive line (8): Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, James Brown, Eben Britton, Jonathan Scott
    Comment: Scott is the one I cannot be certain about because of his right knee. He says it continues to improve and he’s coming up on being three weeks removed from the arthroscopic surgery. He’s got a small base salary guarantee in his contract and that might weigh in the decision a little bit. Plus, they like him when he is healthy. J’Marcus Webb was released Friday. Britton can play guard and tackle, preferably on the right side. One interesting guy to keep an eye on is reserve center Taylor Boggs, who played a ton after the first preseason game. He’s an undrafted guy that I will have more on below, and he has an interesting story. The take here is they bring him back on the practice squad.
    2. Here are my projections (a nice way of saying guesses) for the roster on defense and special teams.
    Defensive end (5):
    Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin, Cheta Ozougwu, Cornelius Washington
    Comment: The top three will define the rotation and Ozougwu sticks because he has raw pass-rushing talent. You just wish he was a little bigger than 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, which might be generous listings. Washington is physically a beast at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. Remember him flying downfield on Michael Ford’s 100-yard kickoff return against the Chargers? But his athletic ability didn’t often translate into great play at Georgia. He’s a sixth-round pick and the guess is he gets to stick around and see if he can develop a little but I’m a little uncertain on his status.
    Defensive tackle (5): Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Aston Whiteside, Zach Minter
    Comment: The first three are locks and after that this is just a guess. Whiteside has some versatility and a little bit of pass rush ability on the inside. He was used as an end last year. Minter is explosive and plays with a high motor even if he might be better suited for the practice squad. Corvey Irvin has been out with a sprained left ankle. If he’s coming back next week, maybe he nudges one of these guys aside.
    Linebacker (6): Jon Bostic, Lance Briggs, James Anderson, D.J. Williams, Blake Costanzo, Khaseem Greene
    Comment: J.T. Thomas played well on special teams all preseason talking to some scouts around the league. But I think it’s hard to find a home for him here unless one of the defensive linemen is let go. That would give special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis some added depth.
    Cornerback (6): Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Isaiah Frey, Zack Bowman, Sherrick McManis, C.J. Wilson
    Comment: It looked like Wilson was further ahead of another undrafted rookie free agent, Demontre Hurst, throughout preseason. Then, Hurst showed up against the Browns and led the defense with seven tackles, made an interception and forced Brian Hoyer into an intentional grounding penalty. It was a big game for him and more on him in a little bit. But Wilson also played well throughout preseason and in a narrow decision, I think Wilson’s superior speed might put him over the top. McManis isn’t a lock but he’s got high value on special teams. Hurst would be a prime candidate to return to the practice squad if let go. It’s also possible only five cornerbacks are retained but with aging veterans some youth in the pipeline would help especially if Emery can find a player that can develop like Frey has since a year ago.
    Safety (4): Chris Conte, Major Wright, Craig Steltz, Anthony Walters
    Comment: It’s hard to see a way in which Brandon Hardin, the third-round pick from a year ago, makes it through final cuts. He’s a great athlete and a hard worker but he doesn’t seem instinctive and he’s stiff in the defensive backfield. This is a position where the Bears may be scanning the waiver wire according to one source. So, stay tuned. Walters has been solid on special teams.
    Special teams (4): Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh, Pat Mannelly, Devin Hester
    Comment: Reports of the demise of Hester since the end of last season were at least somewhat exaggerated. He’s going to have a place on the roster. Brandon Hartson looks like a solid long snapper and a name to keep in mind in the future with Mannelly entering his 16th season. It just seems like Mannelly will be able to snap forever.
    3. Who will serve as the backup to center Roberto Garza is an interesting question. That job has primarily belonged to Edwin Williams the last few seasons but he looks like he could be one of the final cuts. The guy who has gotten the most work since Week 2 of preseason is Taylor Boggs, an undrafted free agent from Humboldt State. Boggs got most of the work after Garza against the Chargers and all the work in the second half last week at Oakland. He played the entire game Thursday against the Browns.
    So, there is something about Boggs that offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer likes. Kromer helped develop Brian de la Puente into a solid center in New Orleans after de la Puente had bounced around five different organizations, including two stops with the 49ers.
    But the most realistic option to begin the season is probably left guard Matt Slauson, who served as the primary backup to Nick Mangold the previous two seasons with the Jets.
    “I’ve done it before,” said Slauson, who did finish some games at center in New York. “If they want me to go do that role, I’ll do that. It’s just something if you are going to be in that position it is nice to know ahead of time. Playing center is a much different position. You have to know all of the adjustments and make sure you are getting snaps throughout the week so you are comfortable with it.
    “I don’t know how anything is going to shake out. We’ll see how that goes.”
    Boggs came out of school in 2011 and was with the Jets as an undrafted free agent when he suffered a torn ACL during the first week of training camp. The move put him on the shelf and when he could return to football work, he hooked up with LeCharles Bentley, training with the former Pro Bowl player in Cleveland and then in Arizona after Bentley shifted his operation to Scottsdale, Ariz.
    “I just kept training and training with LeCharles,” Boggs said. “I’ve been working out with Charles every day, except for Sundays, since I had my ACL surgery. I missed a week. I finally got a workout with the Bears.”
    As Boggs tells it, Bentley put in a phone call to Dwayne Joseph, the Bears’ associate director of pro personnel. Joseph was able to get Boggs a look with the team and he’s quietly developed, maybe to the point that he sticks around and gets to learn some more. It helped that Bentley facilitated the deal because Boggs serves as his own agent.
    “I feel like I have progressed and that is kind of easy to do when you have someone like Roberto Garza, Edwin Williams, Matt Slauson and Eben (Britton) all in your ear the whole time,” Boggs said. “But I am still far from where I need to be.”
    Is his goal to stick around on the practice squad?
    “I’d be embarrassed to even say my goals but I am approaching every day trying to get better,” he said. “Ultimately, I want to make this team.”
    4. Demontre Hurst played well and looks pretty instinctive in the nickel role even though that is a position he rarely played at Oklahoma where he was a three-year starter after beginning his career as a standout on special teams.
    He’s done at least enough to land somewhere on a practice squad, maybe with the Bears, and was savvy enough to know everyone will be watching the game film. He made a game-high seven tackles with an interception and he forced an intentional grounding penalty.
    “I feel like I went out there and took advantage of all the opportunities I had,” Hurst said. “I was in great position to make a lot of plays and I did. Hopefully, I raised some eyes in the front office playing the whole game. I just went out there and had fun, balled out and did what they told me.
    “Whether I am here … hopefully I raised some eyes around the other 31 teams. It was a true blessing to be able to go out there and play.”
    He called the move inside to the nickel position in the spring a transition. He was third until Kelvin Hayden suffered a torn hamstring four weeks ago.
    “Learning behind Kelvin and (Isaiah) Frey, it’s great competition right there,” Hurst said. “I just tried to take advantage of everything I had.”
  2. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    5. One of the storylines for first-round draft pick Kyle Long when he arrived at training camp was that he had missed the entire offseason program because of Oregon’s academic calendar. That amounted to 13 practices – 10 OTA dates and three minicamp practices, as well as the days when players were allowed classroom instruction and drills on the field.
    Is he caught up now that he’s slated to start the season opener at right guard on Sept. 8 against the Bengals?
    “I am still making progress,” Long said. “You ask (center Roberto) Garza and there is still stuff every day he has to go over with me, five, six, seven times that, had I been here for the offseason program, I probably would have it hammered away by now. So there is always progress to be made whether mentally or physically and I am just keep trying to get better every day.”
    Long was rested during the game, a sign he’ll be the starter. Was he pleased to get a night off?
    “I was happy because all these guys got to get a ton of reps,” he said. “For the amount of reps we get on a week-to-week basis, we knew the importance of this game coming in. We wanted to see the depth of our team and that kind of stuff so it was a great opportunity for all of these guys.”
    For a rookie, he is mighty polished when it comes to answering questions. His family’s background in the game has to have a lot to do with it. More on Long’s former hardball career in a little bit.
    6. Jordan Palmer would love to eat a pair of airline tickets he and his wife Dottie have for a European vacation beginning next week. That’s how much he was thinking about playing football this season. But the journeyman quarterback showed well in the preseason finale and will be part of the discussion for final cuts.
    “I have a business back home, a full-time job. I coach kids,” Palmer said. “Ironically, this is how much I thought I’d be playing ball, my wife and I played to be in Europe next week. I’d love to cancel that trip. If I go home, I’ll continue to stay in shape.”
    If Palmer is at home, the Bears could call on him again this season. They added Josh McCown in November last season after Jay Cutler missed a week with a concussion. Palmer had to step into a situation in Jacksonville last season.
    “You’d be surprised,” he said when I asked him how quickly he could pick up the offense again. “Not very long at all. I’ve been here for eight days (of practice) and I feel good. So, now that I’ve got this, to leave and come back it would be easier. Obviously, we didn’t run all of the complex stuff we’ve been running but it would be easy to come back in and play.”
    7. Fendi Onobun is a likeable guy but as raw as he is right now it’s difficult to see how the Bears can commit a roster spot to him. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities here but does anyone think Jay Cutler will throw him the ball in the regular season even if Onobun is streaking down the field wide open?
    He played the entire game against the Browns and you saw some good, some bad and a little ugly. It was all over the board and that is what you get with inconsistent, raw players. Flashes of great athleticism and then plays that make you cringe.
    “It was definitely the most football I’ve played in my life,” he said. “I had a good time. I felt throughout the game I progressed. The thing with me is continue to play the game, continue to play the game, the more I play the more comfortable I get. Like I said, it was the most football I played in my life. I started off a little rough, but showed some resiliency and was able to make some plays and get a feel for the game.”
    What would it mean to him if he made the club after bouncing around the NFL since the Rams drafted him in the sixth round in 2010?
    “It would be an absolute blessing,” he said. “An amazing story. I’m 26 years old and didn’t start playing (the game) until I was 23. Just learning the process, learning the game, learning how to read defenses, learning how to run routes, it’s really different for me. But, it would be an absolute blessing for me. Whatever happens (Friday), I know I gave it my all.”
    I’ll say this much: I can’t recall a player that has been pushed this much by the organization in a while, a guy everyone has been pulling for to make it. Maybe the journey continues on the practice squad.
    8. Got an e-mail from Benji Lawson of Ravenna, Ohio, wondering about the roster status of offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb: “Don’t players who accept pay cuts ensure themselves a spot on the roster in the process? Is this the case with J’Marcus Webb? Did he buy himself a roster spot, in effect, by agreeing to the pay cut?”
    That’s a good question and there isn’t a blanket answer that will cover all cases. I’ve spoken to personnel folks with the Bears in the past who have said that usually -- not always -- is the case. Webb agreed to reduce his base salary from $1.323 million to $630,000 with the opportunity to earn back the difference in playing time incentives. Another personnel man I called in a different city on Thursday said he’s only cut a player once after asking him to take a pay cut but added he’s not averse to doing it.
    In this specific situation, I don’t believe Webb secured his future by accepting the base salary reduction. The team was pressed for cap space -- it had less than $1 million in room -- when the move was made. My hunch, and it’s just a hunch, is Webb will be. Maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle but that’s how I handicap it.
    9. Kyle Long has been busy playing catch-up since training camp opened. Now, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper would love to see Long play a little catch.
    Long, of course, was a 23rd-round pick of the Sox in 2008, five years before the Bears made him a first-round selection. The 6-6, 313-pounder was a left-handed pitcher.
    “I’m inviting him to come out now and have a sideline,” Cooper said Thursday morning on the Mully & Hanley Show on WSCR-AM 670 “If he’d like to have a bullpen, I would love to watch him. It’s interesting, wow, what a talented guy. He’s at the NFL level, playing at the top level in football and he was good enough to possibly get a chance to pitch? I’m open if this guy can come in and throw some cheddar down late in the game. What kind of fastball does he got?”
    Cooper needs only to call Doug Laumann, the scouting director for the Sox, who told the Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that Long had as much raw power on the pitching mound as any prospect he’s ever seen.
    “He was physically a man amongst boys that summer before his senior year (in high school),” Laumann said. “He threw 95-96 (mph) from the left side off the mound and showed as much raw power as I had ever seen.”
    10. For a game that was contested almost entirely by backups and players that will be released in the coming hours, only three NFL scouts were present. The Bengals, Dolphins and Raiders were represented in the press box. The Bears play Cincinnati in the opener and the Browns play Miami in Week 1. No team had a scout at all four Bears’ preseason games unless you count Cleveland, which attended the first three and then played the Bears.
    10 a. Good news for Earl Bennett when general manager Phil Emery told WBBM-AM 780 that he is optimistic the wide receiver will be cleared to return this coming week. Trading Bennett doesn’t make sense from the standpoint that there isn’t a clear replacement on the roster. It would also be difficult given his concussion situation. Cutting Bennett, who is set to earn $2.25 million, would clear a little room but to use it on what?
    10 b. It was a positive sign when Marquess Wilson sat out the game and Marc Trestman talked about him being next up in Bennett’s position. How did Wilson feel?
    “You never know what the decision is,” he said. “I’ll just wait and see like everybody else. I feel like I did (enough to make the team), but in the coaches’ eyes they could always ask for something else from a player. It’s up in the air what the decision may be.”
    No, it looks like Wilson is in good shape.
    10 c. Bears players throughout the locker room are thrilled to be working with Joe DeCamillis and the new special teams coordinator has inherited a strong situation with a tradition of success. His predecessor Dave Toub is excelling in Kansas City although preseason statistics are just that – they’re numbers that don’t matter in the regular season.
    Still, consider the Chiefs averaged 38.9 yards on kickoff returns in preseason with a 109-yard touchdown by Knile Davis and a 104-yard touchdown by Quintin Demps. Kansas City also averaged 15.2 yards on punt returns as Dexter McCluster had a 55-yard return and Devon Wylie (52) and Frankie Hammond (36) also added long returns. So, it was a wide variety of personnel.
    “I know the type of coach is. I am not surprised,” Bears returner Devin Hester said. “He has a point to prove right now with a new team so he is shooting all of his guns right now. That is why I say he is out right now to solidify himself as one of the greatest special teams coaches ever.”
    The guess here is Toub isn’t showing all of his stuff. No good coach does in preseason.
    10 d. The Bears had nine interceptions in preseason by nine different players.
    10 e. Hat tip to Browns coach Rob Chudzinski for calling a two-point conversion in the game not once but twice to ensure there was no overtime scenario.
    Both Lovie Smith and Dick Jauron made mistake of guiding Bears into overtime preseason games in the past.
    10 f. CBS is sending its top crew to Soldier Field for the season opener. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will work the Bengals game on Sept. 8.
    bmbiggs@tribune.com
    Twitter @BradBiggs
  3. Sharky

    Sharky Veteran

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    good read
  4. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    yep a lot of good info there, and a lot of what he said is coming true so far. Should be interesting to see where it goes wrong, or if he was dead on w/his assessment.

    Regardless of what happens w/the RB's I wish they could keep both Ford and Allen; both have a ton of upside and both are good on ST's. But there is a ton of young talent all over the squad and a lot of guys that probably should have deserved a shot are going to get cut, and hell I'd rather that then know that a bunch of bums got cut and no hard decisions needed to be made.
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  5. DaTreeBears

    DaTreeBears Veteran

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    10 e. Hat tip to Browns coach Rob Chudzinski for calling a two-point conversion in the game not once but twice to ensure there was no overtime scenario. Both Lovie Smith and Dick Jauron made mistake of guiding Bears into overtime preseason games in the past.

    Just laughable and where are these 2 coaches today? It's sad when add all those years together of those 2 clowns.
  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I'm hoping we can pick up a decent TE after the final cuts. There's always some decent mid-tier players shake loose in the final cuts, so maybe a TE becomes available. Hope so.
  7. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    So far, I think, he missed only on whiteside and Allen.
  8. Jimmors

    Jimmors The Rhymenoceros Staff Member SuperFan

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    Yeah, im ok with Onobun being on the PS, perhaps it could be a project player for Trestman, earn a roster spot next year if he can develop his football IQ.

    And i really do hope Palmer stays in shape and is ready to come back if we need him, only having 2 QBs is bad enough, but doubly so when one of em is McCown
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  9. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    The Ford/Allen decision must have been a tough one for Emery and Trestman.
  10. Jimmors

    Jimmors The Rhymenoceros Staff Member SuperFan

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    Yeah, but im sure its a problem that any GM would love to have...having this kind of depth at RB.
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  11. DaTreeBears

    DaTreeBears Veteran

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    I'll agree it wasn't easy making the picks/cuts but dang I like how Ford runs. Very hard to stop Ford just like Miller stated he always seems to take 2 or 3 to bring him down. So I liked that pick, the Whiteside was another tough one not sure on him but where the heck did all the D linemen come from. On a side note Minter reminds me of young Melton. This D is going to be even scarier than last year. Mel finally gets real D players and now he's going to use them like Rivera did before he was fired by numbnuts.
  12. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Ya I have no problem w/Ford, I just liked that Allen brought something completely different then Forte or Bush.
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